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Resource sector provides highest paying jobs for Indigenous workers in Canada: Census data

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February 27, 2023
By Talent Canada

Estella Peterson, a First Nations woman, is a heavy equipment operator in the Athabasca oilsands. (CNW Group/Indigenous Resource Network)

Canada’s resource sector, particularly oil and gas, provide the highest paying jobs for Indigenous workers, according to data from Census 2021.

Indigenous people in Canada make almost three times more working in the oil and gas extraction sector than the average Indigenous worker ($140,400 versus $51,120 average employment income) and almost twice as much working in mining ($93,600). Forestry also paid higher than average ($56,100), the Indigenous Resource Network (IRN Canada) pointed out in a press release.

Top 3 paying jobs for Indigenous women are in oil and gas

Indigenous women in particular benefit economically from working in the sector. The top 3 highest paying sectors for Indigenous women are oil and gas related. Indigenous women earn $115,4000 in oil and gas extraction, versus only $43,600 on average in all industries.

Pipeline transportation jobs pay even more, with Indigenous women earning $151,000 on average for crude oil and $113,000 for natural gas pipeline employment.


Indigenous people are well represented in the resource sector, . While they represent 3.9 per cent of the Canadian workforce overall, they are 6.9 per cent of the oil and gas workforce, 10.8 per cent of the mining workforce, and 9.2 per cent of forestry. By contrast, 5.0 per cent of the federal government workforce is Indigenous, IRN Canada said.

Indigenous oil and gas workers earn 2.2 per cent more

The oil and gas sector has also eliminated the wage gap, it said. According to Statistic Canada’s Labour Force Survey, Indigenous workers in oil and gas extraction made 2.2 per cent more in average weekly wages than the average Canadian oil and gas worker in 2021.

Across all industries in Canada, Indigenous workers made 7.6 per cent less than the average worker.

“Many Indigenous workers have become involved in the oil and gas, mining and forestry sectors to benefit from the good, high paying careers they can provide,” said IRN Canada board chair John Desjarlais. “These numbers show that the resource sector is valuing the skills and experience that Indigenous workers bring to the table. We look forward to working with industry to continue closing the gap and creating even more opportunities for those Indigenous workers that want it.”

The statistics are based on custom datasets from the Labour Force Survey (2019-2021) (Catalogue no. 71C0003) and Census 2021 (Catalogue no. P0001178).

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