While some of our office-based workforce enjoys time off during this time of year, it’s important to remember that it’s business as usual during the holiday season at our operating sites.  

Nelson Couto, a shift supervisor at our Montreal refinery, knows better than most how tough it can be to head to work on Christmas Day.

“It can be really hard to get up and leave on Christmas morning,” admits Nelson. “You know your kids are going to be up in a few hours and you won’t be there to see them open all those presents.”

Suncor's Montreal refinery.
Suncor's Montreal refinery.

Although difficult, Nelson acknowledges it has become easier over the past 10 years with technology like FaceTime to be connected to those at home while at work on special days. He also adds his co-workers at the refinery make being at work much brighter.

“It’s always a team effort,” says Nelson. “I know if I’m working Christmas Day, then a team member will take New Year’s Eve so I can be home with my family. We all have each other’s backs and know the work we are doing is important.”

Nelson adds that decorations at the refinery and special meals for those working the holidays make things a bit easier for those keeping the refinery running.

At our Fort Hills site north of Fort McMurray, Therese Karniej is doing her best to keep the holiday spirit alive for those working during the festive season.

Fort Hills oil sands site.
Suncor's Fort Hills oil sands site.

Therese, an operations support administrator at Fort Hills, says that for those staying at our lodges this time of year is time spent with a second family.

“For me, I have my work family and I have my real family,” says Therese. “My family lives out east now. So, I knew it would be tough to get home to see my real family this year, and I was happy to come and spend the holidays with my work family instead.”

In addition to spending time with her work family, Therese has also been busy making Fort Hills a “holly jolly” place with things like an Elf on the Shelf named Basal, who has been making the rounds at Fort Hills to bring humour to his colleagues. Photos of Basal’s antics are shared on Suncor’s internal social network to give employees a glimpse of what life is like up at the site this time of year. 

Basal, the Elf on the Shelf, sits in the driver's seat of a CAT-brand machine.
Basal, the Fort Hills Elf on the Shelf, sits in the driver's seat at the oil sands mine.

Therese has also been decorating, which, of course, includes several trees in the administration building, a bulletin board where employees share their favourite holiday traditions and other decorations. In addition, a large outdoor tree was put up by the primary extraction team. It’s small initiatives that go a long way for employees working over the holiday season.

A large Christmas tree lit up outdoors at Fort Hills.
A large Christmas tree at Fort Hills.

We are grateful for the hard work and efforts of everyone across our operations in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Colorado during this time of year as well as our associates at Petro-Canada retail and wholesale sites across the country.