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By JENNIFER TURNER, DIRECTOR, Canadian Heavy Oil Association (CHOA)

The Challenges Ahead

We are all pathfinders at a critical time. We are navigating what many call a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. The old ways of doing business don’t cut it anymore.

An epic journey awaits us all. New partnerships, collaboration and innovation are required to rise to the challenges we face. If we are successful, we will help create a better world and strengthen Canada in the process. 

In the short haul, we must prioritize work to help address market disruption and reconfigure new supply chains that maximize trade without sacrificing human rights, including climate progress. In the longer term, we must do more than reduce emissions. We need to able to ask ourselves if this world is better off because of our work in it… and confidently know the answer is “Yes”! 

Just like every epic journey, there will be important stories – of progress, successes and failures, of lessons learned. Some of these stories are right in these pages. All of them offer lessons that can become toeholds to help us climb higher. 

CHOA has always understood the importance of sharing these stories. At a time with industry innovation was largely devoted to feats of science and engineering, we focused on people as the most valuable resource in energy. That’s why CHOA became the first industry organization with a dual-mandate: to build a strong social community while providing best-in class professional development opportunities and access to technical knowledge. 

Our core commitments to connect, share, learn and lead. We are smarter – and stronger – together.


Building on 35 years as a volunteer-driven organization, I know our legacy is “future-fit”. We have always focused on the power of community. We work hard to create new opportunities for connection and collaboration, in line with our core commitments to “connect, share, learn and lead”. We are smarter – and stronger – together.

Our fall conference will include our inaugural “Sparks!” event. This is a series of interactive “TED-X” style presentations where innovators will describe an opportunity or a problem, share potential solutions, and “spark” input from our audience. We will also convene industry trailblazers and women who comprise the leading edge of Canadian energy innovation. We’ll tackle some important conversations about industry and supply chain impacts. All this will be done with a focus on getting to net zero and beyond, because Canadian energy leadership and innovation is part of creating a better world. (You may want to earmark November 15 on your calendars!) 

We are surrounded by world-class energy innovation in Canada that we can be proud of and build upon. Alberta is blooming with startup companies specializing in water stewardship, energy transition and cleantech. The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero Alliance, comprising 95% of Canadian oilsands production, has charted a path to achieve net zero by 2050. There is no other similar example of collaboration at this scale in the energy industry, anywhere in the world. 

As we build community, we are making new partnerships with a growing number of organizations and companies in pursuit of shared goals. Some of them, like Alberta Innovates, are collaborative by nature. I am grateful to be personally involved in our work with groups like Calgary Women in Energy, Young Women in Energy, the Canadian Energy and Climate Nexus, and DirectHer. 

There is also growing recognition of Indigenous people as rights holders and sustainability experts with vital and unique knowledge that is critical to our brighter future. As partners, we can produce better projects that protect what is most important. We look forward to seeing more communities that reflect this. This is also a critical part of innovation in Canada. 


Together, we have what it takes to make this journey. We have world-class technology, knowledge and people that are genuinely committed to doing good in this world. We can collaborate on solutions to these challenges and learn from each other along the way. 

On that note, I’d like to personally invite every one of you to join us here at CHOA! Please reach out to us if you are interested in doing so.

I can’t wait to hear our future stories. It will be even better when we can create them together.

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 4