Indigenous gas station struggling after pandemic, high fuel prices

A First Nations-owned gas station outside Calgary has seen it profits hit hard by skyrocketing gas prices just as the business is recovering from pandemic shutdowns.

“Through COVID-19, we went through months where myself and Darryl, we didn’t pay ourselves,” said Mona Royal, who co-owns M & R Gas station on Siksika Nation with her husband Darryl McDonald.

“We had to literally wait until we were able to pay ourselves because my employees came first.”

The independent business, about 95 km east of Calgary, was thriving before the pandemic hit. Now rising gas prices, affected by Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, are interfering, McDonald said.

“It’s hard to compete with Petro [-Canada], Shell, Esso. Where we draw our customers in – our non-native customers – is our friendliness, just being friendly in general.”

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