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Feb 13 2023

Ukrainian refugee builds career and community in Burns Lake

Posted by Coastal GasLink

Since 2014, and until the day they reached Canada, Aws and his family lived as refugees inside Ukraine. Forced to move each year to a new place, their lives became wrought with uncertainty as the Russian invasion displaced them from Ukraine for good. Finally arriving in Canada in 2022, Aws and his family have found a new home in Burns Lake, B.C., where their lives have changed forever.

With an impressive background in mechanical engineering and pipeline construction, Aws quickly found a role with Coastal GasLink through Section 6 Prime contractor, Michels Canada, as a welding apprentice. Following three months of hard work, Aws received his Canadian welding inspector ticket and was promoted to Quality and Engineer Inspector on Coastal GasLink.

Aws knows firsthand the importance of ensuring secure, sustainable and reliable energy is available to help the world heat their homes, power their businesses and feed their families.

“Right now, people are dying because it’s cold. They are dying because they have no food,” says Aws. “In the future, some countries will need help – we will help them and give them a chance to survive.”

Coastal GasLink will be the critical link in delivering Canadian LNG to global markets – enabling Asian communities the opportunity to transition their lives through lower-carbon emitting natural gas by offsetting coal-fired energy.

“When Michels Canada learned of an opportunity to support a Ukrainian refugee family living in Burns Lake, we jumped in to add Aws to our Coastal GasLink Project team. As proud as we are to have Aws on our team, he has made a positive impact on us with his skills and solid work ethic; he reminds us of the importance of a reliable LNG delivery system on communities and the world.””

John Hunt, Project Director, Michels Canada

“To be a part of this team, it’s amazing,” says Aws. “When I came here, I felt that I would encounter challenges, but the support that I got from all of the Coastal GasLink, TC Energy and Michels Canada teams made it easy for me,” said Aws.

Aws is now a valued member of a team of more than 6,000 women and men who are building much more than a pipeline. They are developing their careers and contributing to northern B.C. communities while constructing critical, world-class energy infrastructure that will provide a secure, reliable and sustainable energy alternative for decades to come.

Learning of the newest addition to their community, the people of Burns Lake went above and beyond to ensure Aws and his family felt supported and welcomed, donating food, money and even a vehicle as they settled into their new hometown. Additionally, Coastal GasLink’s bottle drive program, which to date has donated more than $275,000 to local communities, directed bottle proceeds to further support Aws’ transition to Canada.

“When we reached Canada and saw how people here treat us and how everyone tries to help and support us, we feel like we are home,” Aws said. “Even the people who can’t provide you anything – they offer a smile and that’s enough.”

Coastal GasLink represents a significant solution to meet today’s challenges, and a strong foundation for how our energy story unfolds to meet the problems of tomorrow – one that will be led by our core values of innovation, sustainability and safety excellence.