Suncor's community investment strategy is focused on targeted investments intended to help communities near our operations grow, thrive and become sustainable and resilient

Suncor's a community investment strategy is focused on helping communities grow, thrive and become sustainable

Suncor's community investment strategy is focused on targeted investments intended to help communities near our operations grow, thrive and become sustainable and resilient

Suncor's community investment strategy is focused on targeted investments intended to help communities near our operations grow, thrive and become sustainable and resilient

View the latest Report on Sustainability

Suncor works hard to build and maintain relationships with local communities and stakeholders as they are foundational to successful energy development.

Community investment

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As stewards of valuable natural resources, we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to help build a better future. By supporting resilience, skill development and social well-being in the communities around us, we strive to create shared value and benefit for all involved.

We are here to connect and support, as well as learn with our community partners. By working with others, we increase our body of knowledge and make progress on addressing complex social needs that impact us all.

Collaboration is at the heart of our community investment strategy. By working collaboratively, we can find and realize opportunities for long-term solutions that can positively impact communities, future generations and our company. It also ensures we continue to understand each other’s interests, issues, needs and concerns.

Our community investment strategy

Suncor and our private, non-profit, charitable organization, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), are guided by a strategy focused on targeted investments intended to help communities near our operations grow, thrive and become sustainable and resilient.

By leveraging our strengths as an integrated energy company, we believe we can be an effective partner in supporting sustainable, resilient communities. That’s why we focus our investments in five key areas to support integrated initiatives that:

  • strengthen communities by cultivating community leaders
  • support building skills and knowledge for the current and future workforce
  • foster the ability to think creatively through inspiring innovation
  • build employee and volunteer capability by engaging citizens in community activities
  • engage employees and communities in collaborating on our energy future

“Our collaborative approach allows us to work in partnership with communities to understand the needs that impact both society and Suncor,” says Lori Hewson, director, community investment and social innovation. “Going forward, we’re being more deliberate about focusing on the systems connected to three areas: Aboriginal youth engagement and leadership, energy transition, and community resilience. When we have a clear understanding of all the elements of a system - including who’s involved, the roles they play, and how impacts are felt - we can be more strategic with our investments and better ensure they support transformative and lasting change.”


Community investment by fuding priority

For most energy companies, 2016 continued to be a difficult year to navigate in terms of how best to support community organizations through the ongoing economic downturn and budget constraints. In addition, SEF inherited community commitments with Suncor’s acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands Limited. SEF was also able to draw on knowledge and experience from the southern Alberta floods of 2013 to support the relief and rebuilding efforts following the fire in the Wood Buffalo region that displaced nearly 90,000 residents in May.

Through the corporate foundation model, SEF continued to draw on the reserve fund to honour commitments and maintain support to community partners. Our Foundation is an example of sustainability in action by allowing us to be resilient in times of economic uncertainty. While SEF could not consider a lot of new funding, we were able to maintain support to our strategic initiatives and partners through dollars, in-kind contributions and volunteerism.

Read more about our Community Investment strategy and the Suncor Energy Foundation

Community investment: Our support in the community

Suncor is part of our communities so we need to play a role in working alongside partners and communities, strengthening our collective resilience and sustainability. By taking this approach, we can help support lasting change and, ultimately, contribute to communities that have the ability to rebound more quickly during downturns or times of crisis.

“For many years, we were doing what we thought was right, being reactive and doing things ‘to’ community. Now we’ve started to move into a ‘with’ and ‘of’ space: how do we work together in partnership for the common good?” reflects Hewson. “One key learning we’ve had is that we have to be comfortable with uncertain outcomes, and to be prepared to allow ourselves and our organization to be changed by what we’re seeing and hearing.”

This approach was strengthened from the SEF Gathering events and can be seen in some emerging collaborations such as the Alberta Social Innovation fellows, Alberta Ecotrust’s Climate Gathering and the creation of the social goal.

The Wood Buffalo wild fires and our support

SEF’s community investment philosophy was put to the test in 2016, as we worked alongside partners to support citizens and organizations in the aftermath of the fires in the Wood Buffalo region of Alberta, the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Within days of the community evacuation, the SunCares Humanitarian Grant was launched, with Suncor employees from as close as Fort McMurray to as far away as Scotland and Norway opening their hearts and wallets to support those affected by the disaster.

The result was an astounding 1,700 donations totalling more than $547,000 contributed by employees, leaders, contractors, retirees and Suncor’s Board of Directors to the Canadian Red Cross and the United Way of Fort McMurray. This support reached an all-time high by employees.  In addition, the SEF matched the donations for a total contribution of $1.094 million.

Through Petro-Canada and its loyalty program Petro-Points, members donated over two million points, and gas cards were provided to various non-profits assisting with relief efforts. Petro-Canada retail stations in Alberta accepted Red Cross fuel vouchers from evacuees.

In addition, the Suncor Energy Foundation and Suncor provided approximately $1 million in grants to charities and non-profit organizations in Wood Buffalo to support their recovery efforts.

Overall, including Suncor employee donations, Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation provided over $3 million in cash and in-kind support to the community through the fires.

“There’s no playbook for this scale of disaster,” says Russell Thomas, director of communications and community impact for the United Way of Fort McMurray. “The support we received from Suncor helped charities and non-profit organizations deliver much needed programs and services in the days and months after the fires, including mental health, children and youth programs, and seniors care to name a few.”

Learning from the Calgary floods in 2013, the SEF team also immediately established a Funders Circle. The Funders Circle brings together a variety of government, private and industry funders on a regular basis to share information and discuss funding and collaboration opportunities around short, medium and long-term needs.

This agility and resilience was due in part to the long-time work of community partners, including SEF, prior to the fires to strengthen the social profit sector in the Wood Buffalo region through the Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo initiative. Among other outcomes, it resulted in the creation of a backbone organization, FuseSocial, which helps connect and support social profit organizations to innovate to meet the needs of a rapidly changing community.

“When disasters occur, it’s important to consider not only the immediate needs of a community, but how we can come together with others to support re-entry, recovery and long-term community rebuilding efforts,” reflects Kim Nordbye, manager, community investment at Suncor.

And this is how our support continues today - working together with community leaders, government, other funders and industry as the Wood Buffalo community looks to the future.

Examples of our strategy in action

Here are some examples of the community investment strategy in action in 2016, and what we’ve learned:

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Collaborating on our energy future

Meeting society’s energy challenges today and tomorrow is all about making informed choices. That’s why Suncor and the SEF are investing in an evolving set of initiatives to collaborate on the energy future we’ll all share. Our goal is to leverage our strengths as an energy company and be a catalyst for an inclusive national dialogue that will enable Canada to use our energy resources wisely and pave the way for a sustainable energy future.

Launched in 2015 with 40 Fellows, The Energy Futures Lab (EFL) is an Alberta-based, multi-sector collaboration designed to help shape Alberta’s energy future and strengthen its position and reputation as a global energy leader. Led by The Natural Step (TNS) Canada, it’s supported by four other convening organizations: the SEF, the Banff Centre, the Pembina Institute, and the Government of Alberta. The Fellows are exploring the question: How can Alberta’s leadership position in today’s energy system serve as a platform for transitioning to the energy system the future needs?

In 2016, the Fellows identified nine innovation pathways, including radical carbon efficiency in energy production, deployment of distributed renewables and smart energy communities, to focus their work in the coming years. Check out the Energy Futures Lab website to learn more about each of the pathways and the progress that’s being made.

"The work of building a new energy future is as relevant to the oil and gas industry as it is to new tech and renewables,” says Sandy Martin, EFL Fellow and vice president, regional technical services at Suncor. “If the oil sands industry wants to play a role in the energy future, we have to keep upping our game. Bitumen is a great source of energy; we can also make it an even more valuable resource for a low carbon future.”

Another initiative supported in the energy space is Student Energy (SE), and its interactive energy literacy platform. SE is a global not-for-profit that is helping post-secondary students to become the next generation of leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable energy future. Their approach of engaging all perspectives for a balanced understanding aligns with how we want to have the conversation about our energy future.

Success of Indigenous youth

Another example of our community investment strategy in action is our efforts to support Indigenous youth success. We have focused on four areas – reconciliation, culture, learning and leading and have partnered with organizations that are building networks across these four streams. Find out more below, and within our partnering with Aboriginal youth section of this report.

Reconciliation Canada

Through our partnership with Reconciliation Canada, Suncor is learning what reconciliation means in Canada and for our organization. As outlined in our social goal, Suncor has committed to changing the way we think and act in regards to our relationship with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Reconciliation is the process of understanding and coming to terms with our shared history in order to have a vibrant community where all peoples, including Indigenous youth, achieve their full potential and have an opportunity to share in their prosperity.


Our long-time work with Indspire includes support of the yearly Indspired Youth Experience, which brings Indigenous youth from communities near our operations to the Indspire Awards gala. This event enables youth to see role models, celebrate culture and learn from recipients. SEF also supports Indspire’s yearly National Gathering for Indigenous Education, which brings together 700-800 educators to focus on tactics to support Indigenous education success, and services and supports for educators.

Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA)

In the fall of 2016, Suncor stood beside representatives from the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) at Vancouver City Council as Suncor’s donation of a parcel of Petro-Canada land in the East Hastings area was formally approved for an Indigenous youth centre.

“This partnership with the City of Vancouver and Urban Native Youth Association will lead to a safe space for Indigenous youth in Vancouver, a place where they can meaningfully engage with their culture and community, expand their knowledge, life and employment skills, and further develop their leadership capacity,” says Tracey Wolsey, director, stakeholder and Aboriginal relations, Suncor. “Through the diverse opportunities created by the Native Youth Centre, Indigenous youth will be empowered to define their own path to success.”

Learning Through The Arts

SEF has also partnered with The Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through The Arts (LTTA) and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), to support nearly 2,000 Calgary students, including Indigenous learners, to participate in an innovative program that provides a way for teachers to connect core curriculum to the experiences and context of their students, leading to greater engagement and retention of learning.

Through the Design | Media Arts program, teachers learn to provoke learning in their students by curating or designing ‘provocations’ such as videos or artworks that stimulate curiosity and bring forth a variety of points of view about topics in core curriculum.

CBE is collaborating with LTTA to develop an online version during the 2017/18 school year that will ultimately make it possible for all 7,000 CBE teachers and their students to benefit over the next several years. The Design | Media Arts model has also formed the basis for programming LTTA is leading in collaboration with First Nations-run schools in five Indigenous communities across Canada, including Fort Chipewyan in the Wood Buffalo region.

Investing in social innovation

To further support the new skills and thinking needed to make progress on complex community challenges, SEF, in partnership with The Banff Centre, continued to support the four-week Getting to Maybe social innovation residency program in 2016. It brings together approximately 30 leaders from diverse corporate, government and community roles to explore ways to make communities better places to live by looking at issues through:

  • systems thinking
  • the environment
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • the creative process and arts as a foundation for social innovation theory

The program is collaboratively designed by academic experts from the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience at the University of Waterloo and expert faculty and thought leaders from The Banff Centre and SEF.

Reflects one participant, “Having the opportunity to be in a diverse cohort, I became convinced that we all need to partake in this type of meaningful learning and create more opportunities to engage like this in our work. These perspectives, including Indigenous knowledge and learnings, have now become embedded in our organization and in what we think is most important in Canada.”

Find out more about the Getting to Maybe social innovation residency.

Local communities

During 2016, Suncor and SEF continued to support many local initiatives in our operating communities, including:

St. John’s – Memorial University – Centre for Social Enterprise - a catalyst to nurture social entrepreneurs and strengthen social enterprises in Newfoundland and Labrador through three strategic pillars: Research Centre, Supporting Teaching and Learning Programs and Social Enterprise Incubator.

Fort McMurrayFuseSocial: emerging from the Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo project, this organization strives to enhance the capacity of social profit organizations in the region.

SarniaCentennial Park: Sarnia’s waterfront plays an important role in bringing the community together and supporting local organizations working hard to make the community a great place to work and live. Supporting the Gathering Space in Centennial Park was our way to help bring people together.

DenverBoys and Girls Club: As a long-time supporter, we proudly celebrated the grand opening of the new Suncor Boys & Girls Club facility in Commerce City. The new space will support expanded programs to meet the community needs for years to come.

MontrealYouth Fusion: If we want our youth to understand that they can be the future innovators in energy fields, we must start supporting them at an early age. Youth Fusion exposes youth to different careers in STEM but also provides the necessary tools to experiment and learn directly through a variety of mentors.

EdmontonWomen Building Futures: Takes unemployed and underemployed women and puts them through an intense pre-trades program to empower women to succeed in non-traditional careers, inspiring positive economic change for women and forever transforming the face of industry in Canada.

Supporting our employees

Volunteerism and community engagement has long been part of how our employees contribute to the community. Through our SunCares employee program, we support the causes that are important to them in the following ways:

  • Volunteering – We provide tools and resources to help our employees find volunteer opportunities, either as an individual, part of a Suncor team or through a Suncor-sponsored event.
  • SunCares Grants – SEF and Suncor provide a number of grants to support our employees’ engagement in their communities.
  • United Way – During the 2016 Suncor United Way Campaign, more than $5.8 million was contributed to United Way chapters through employee donations, special events and the corporate donation provided by Suncor and SEF.

At the end of 2016, SEF transitioned to a new grants management system provider, Benevity. The transition will provide the opportunity to make appropriate changes to the SunCares Employee Program to enable stronger employee engagement and provide more choice for supporting communities.

Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Games support

Through our Petro-Canada brand, we are a long-time supporter of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic movement. Our current sponsorship agreement extends our support for Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches and their families through to 2024.

Our involvement in the Canadian Olympic movement is a journey that began in 1987, when Petro-Canada organized and sponsored the Torch Relay for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. We are proud to continue our support of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Petro-Canada’s Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACETM) Program has supported more than 2,700 athletes on their way to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Every year, 55 promising athletes from across Canada are awarded a $10,000 FACE grant, shared with their coaches, to help them along their journey.

We believe one of the best ways to support Canadian athletes is to help their biggest fans, their families. We continue to support a Canadian ticketing program that will help ensure family members have the opportunity to see their athletes compete live in PyeongChang in 2018.

Other examples

You can find more examples of our community investment strategy in action in other areas of the Report on Sustainability, including how:

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