Canadian Natural United Way campaign generates spirit

I took my first trip out to the Canadian Natural Horizon oil sands site to help celebrate the conclusion of their spirited United Way campaign. The event was held in a large cafeteria with a strong contingent of employees in attendance to make their final silent auction purchases and cheer on the winners.

I was struck by a number of things, but primarily by the enthusiasm and passion of the campaign co-chairs Kelsey McBride and Morgan Brown. They were bubbling over describing the innovative fundraising activities they organized and the surprise hit of the campaign, a run/walk event that raised over $47,000.

“One Vice President contacted us to verify if anyone from their department was participating,” shared the co-chairs. “This VP then challenged their entire department with a goal to raise $2000. If they reached it, the construction coordinator participating in the event would shave his legs. They surpassed this goal in no time. The VP then sent out another challenge. This time, if they could raise $10,000, the construction coordinator would wax his legs and chest. All in all, our coordinator raised $10,168 and now has the smoothest chest and legs you can imagine.”

From their famous Taco in a Bag fundraiser to the first annual ball hockey game versus the Keyano Huskies, the Canadian Natural United Way campaign was a perfect mix of innovation and fun.

The first annual Top Oil Chef featured teams picking 3 mystery ingredients out of a possible 10 items that included avocado, coffee, cotton candy and Greek yogurt, to name but a few. They could add any item to their dish and create anything they wanted: appetizers, entrées or even desserts.

“There were three different kinds of avocado cupcakes, deep fried ice cream, two chili dishes, a soup, and even a three-course meal,” said Kelsey and Morgan.

Canadian Natural has been a proud supporter of the United Way in communities where they operate for over 25 years. The company does not only encourage volunteers to participate, it also matches employee donations dollar for dollar every year.

“Our company takes great pride in helping build stronger communities and providing diverse opportunities for employees to play a role in those efforts,” they said. “At Canadian Natural, we are proud of our many employees who donate valuable time to assist with community projects. Our employees and contractors connect with our corporate donation programs in a very personal way by contributing and volunteering to support local charities and organizations.”

At Canadian Natural’s Horizon oil sands site, it is a true mosaic, with people from all walks of life cohesively working together. Similar to the United Way, their community investment goals strive to make a difference and improve the lives of families, youth, seniors and individuals who may be disadvantaged by difficult life situations and/or health challenges.

“Through the United Way, we as a company can truly have a positive impact on the lives of others,” said Kelsey and Morgan. “We are merely the stepping stones to impactful change.”

As we said our goodbyes, it was clear that Kelsey and Morgan were brimming with pride over how their Canadian Natural colleagues stepped up and made their United Way campaign so successful. We are grateful for their efforts, that of their many volunteers, and every single employee of Canadian Natural who contributed to the 2014 Community Campaign.


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.