Canada Day has come and gone and it is evident how much Canadians love our country. Despite our regional differences, there seems to be a general understanding that all provinces and territories are connected, and when one province is doing well, the others are also.
Recently I wrote about the routine of a heavy equipment operator in the oil sands. What does that have to do with the other provinces and the economy, you might ask?
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All the Different Jobs and Workers in the Oil Sands
In early adulthood, I learned that there is always someone in a higher position above you that can affect your career positively or negatively. People often think they are working alone without others' input, but everything we do indeed affects others in our worksites, businesses, and country. In oil and gas, it is not any different. For example, a heavy equipment operator could not work without mechanics that help fix and maintain the equipment.
While operating heavy equipment, I have thought many times about how many other professions I have encountered while working in the oil sands mine.
Equipment operators, supervisors, dispatchers, managers, planners, engineers, coordinators, human resources, union representatives… the list goes on. There is also the mechanics; each piece of equipment has a designated mechanic that works solely on that type of machinery.
There are welders, drillers, geologists, surveyors, electricians, information techs, radio techs, tire techs, fire/emergency workers, and environmental workers that test and monitor the water, river beds, air, animals, plants and habitats. We also have general labourers, lube attendants and wash bay attendants to further help maintain overall operations.
Most sites also have contract companies that bring in many other services like meal prep, delivery drivers, long haul drivers, more heavy equipment operators and their own mechanics, fuel services and supervisors. We have cleaning staff, bussing systems, pilots, aircraft mechanics, security, plant operators and the various jobs within that broad scope.
Literally one could go on and on about on-site personnel all part of the well-lubricated machine known as the Canadian oil sands. That is not mentioning any of the offsite office workers in urban locations like lawyers, media relations and of course, most executives.
The shortlist of jobs required for the safe, consistent, and environmentally conscious extraction of oil from bitumen should give Canadians an idea of how diverse but interconnected our jobs are. We could not do one job without another. You see this when cuts are made to one department, it usually affects the performance of another department.
Advocate for Canadian Energy and Support Our Families
As an Indigenous oil sands worker, it is disheartening to see some First Nations – although an increasingly smaller amount – blindly following the narrative that Canadian oil and gas are bad. The misinformation that some environmentalists use to alarm Indigenous People is often extreme. Using social media as their weapon to spread such exaggerated negative information is often supported by celebrities and other out-of-country sources. There is more than one group that wants Canadian oil and gas to fail, despite most First Nations supporting Canadian energy according to the latest survey by the Indigenous Resource Network.
Most Canadians and Indigenous peoples support Canadian energy because they know that the revenues generated from it helps the entire country, paying for things such as new highways, affordable housing, hospitals, schools, fire halls, police stations, and more. And even though a small part of Canada’s population generally does not support responsible Canadian oil and gas production, they are more than happy to benefit from the revenues generated by the industry.
Canada’s sustainably produced energy is some of the best in the world. We are continually improving new technologies while moving towards renewables for our electricity generation needs. Canadians also realize that each one of those energy workers, regardless of occupation, has a family to support and spend their money to support other Canadians and their businesses.
Please continue to advocate for energy projects in Canada so that we can improve our economy and support Canadian and Indigenous families, because we are all interconnected. Stopping responsible Canadian oil and gas will only hurt the economy and the hundreds of thousands of families across the country who rely on it to put food on the table for their loved ones.
About the Author
Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.
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