Alaibek Salakunov
New immigrant from Kyrgystan

“You feel like you are a real man because this is the job for the real man.”

Alaibek moved to Canada five months ago from Kyrgyzstan. He moved for the future of his children because he wants a more stable environment for them. He says living in Kyrgystan was “unstable” because for the last ten years they have had two revolutions and riots.

In Kyrgystan, Alaibek worked for a Canadian coal mining company called Centerra Gold Incorporated. Since moving to Canada five months ago Alaibek has worked in a warehouse, bought a house and his wife Jyldyz Oskoeva has become pregnant with a son. He is thrilled to be chosen as one of the sixteen trainees for the CCIS Oil and Gas Training Program. He believes that the course will make him an expert in the oil and gas industry.

Jyldyz Oskoeva
New immigrant from Kyrgystan

Jyldyz is Alaibek’s wife. She is from Kyrgystan and recently joined her husband in Calgary. She is excited about starting a new life in Canada with her husband and her unborn child. She was an accountant in Kyrgystan and plans to upgrade her qualifications so she can work in Canada as an accountant.

Colum Quinn, New immigrant from Northern Ireland

“When you’re in Alberta, that’s all you hear about. It’s the main industry here and oil and gas are going to be needed for …our lifetimes and you know, I can’t see that changing.”

Colum is from a town in Northern Ireland called Newry. He moved to Calgary over a year ago with his wife, Amanda and their two sons Reese and Zack. They moved to Canada because Ireland has been hit really hard by the global recession and Colum wanted to seek work elsewhere and also have an adventure with his family. In Ireland, Colum worked in software engineering for the Swedish company, Ericsson. He also was involved in renovating properties in Ireland. Recently his parents bought a farm in Saskatchewan and after visiting them they decided to immigrate to Canada. Colum wants to work into the oil and gas industry because he feels there will be work in the industry for the rest of his life.

Amanda Quinn
New immigrant from Northern Ireland

“The women in the houses had jobs in Ireland and the men didn’t. And now the women are giving up their jobs to come over here so that their husbands and partners can get work. And there’s a lot of that, every single week there’s new families arriving.”

Birhane Tsegaye-Berhe
New immigrant from Eritrea

“When I came to Canada, it’s totally different… looks like heaven, like a dream you know. We say right when you die, you go to heaven or hell. It looks like heaven when you come to Canada.”

Birhane has been living in Canada for two years and six months. He was living as a refugee in Ethiopia and Somalia and was sponsored to move to Canada by the Canadian government. While living in Eritrea, Birhane had an extremely dangerous job working as a land mine detector.
He is very happy that he has been selected for the CCIS Oil and Gas program and has recently married a woman he knew from back home. She is living in Egypt and is waiting to get permission to come to Canada.

Maojiang Han (Luke)
New immigrant from China

“In Canada to get an ideal job you have to speak English. Your English skills have to be very well. So, for me I know this is my weakness. I have to improve it so every day, any where, any time, I study English”.

Maojiang Han (Luke) is originally from the city of Dongying in the Shangdong province of China. Dongying city has the second largest oil field in China and Luke has always dreamed of being an oil rig worker. He worked as a farmer in China and this dream never came true for him. Five years ago he moved to Canada to work at a local meat packing plant. Luke believes the Oil and Gas Training program at the CCIS will change his life and help him to accomplish his goal of working in the industry. Luke struggles with English and recognizes that it will be his biggest challenge when trying to get a job in Canada. Luke hopes that he will get a job which will give him more money so he can buy a bigger house for his family and have a good life.

Bob Khan
Director of Operations
CCIS Oil and Gas Training Program

“I thought maybe I should do something for the immigrants who are at the same crossroads as I am.”

Bob was born in India and moved to Pakistan in the early 1950’s. After getting his education he moved to Canada in the early 1970’s and started working with theTrans-Canada pipeline in 1978. He retired in 2001 and joined the Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society to help new immigrants. Bob developed a program that introduces immigrants to Canada’s oil and gas industry. The course is called the CCIS Oil and Gas Training Program and it has been running for ten years. The program is extremely successful and received three to four hundred applicants each year. Due to funding restrictions Bob can only choose sixteen new immigrants to participate in the program.

Dean Williams

“Our industry is lacking the man power…every year but I think there is a job out there for every one of these guys waiting for them right now.”

“One of the big differences between the immigration classes that I get and some local Alberta boys or guys from Saskatchewan is the attitude and the mentality. I find that with the immigration classes they are pretty excited and they are happy to be out there working and they don’t have bad attitudes. They don’t have that yet.”

Angus Stewart

“It’s a benefit to have these guys here because a lot of young fellas coming out don’t want to do the floor hand or the lease hand jobs. These jobs are quite heavy and quite dirty and for these guys coming in it’s a good opportunity for them… to make some fairly good money.”

Cindy Hames
Ensign Energy Services Inc.

“I do believe there a place for new immigrants in the oil and gas industry in Alberta…we need to tap into resources that we haven’t traditionally tapped into before so new immigrants are definitely a new pool for us”

“New immigrants have these incredible experiences, you can take a twenty year old new immigrant that has lived a hundred years. Like the type of exposure to the different extreme situations is amazing. And not only have they been exposed to those extreme situations, they’ve come out successful. They have come out together and they have come out excited about participating in being a part of Canada”.

Cindy works with the oil and gas company Ensign Energy which has been hiring new immigrants to work on the oil patch from the CCIS Oil and Gas program.

John Howse, Teacher
CCIS Oil and Gas Training Program

“The oil patch is a very varied patch and you will get some old boys that haven’t changed for the last fifty years. And they won’t like minority people. They won’t like being saddled with them until you provide yourself. The only way to prove yourself in the oil patch is to work hard, work often and be reliable.”

John teaches the new immigrants “the English of the oil patch” and the reality of what it will be like to work on a rig.

Language: English ⋅ Running time: 23 minutes