When gathering around the dinner table, some families bond over common interests like music or sports, but for Carla Young and her family, it’s giant mining equipment that connects them.

Carla, her husband Jason, and her sons Brandon and Brody, all operate heavy equipment at Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site near Fort McMurray, Alta.

Carla Young, with her sons Brody Sanderson (left) and Brandon Sanderson (right) operate heavy equipment at the Syncrude Mildred Lake site.

About 25 years ago, Carla was a single mom, driving a school bus with her two sons in car seats onboard. Then, she began driving coach buses that transported workers to and from work sites. That’s when Carla was inspired to make a career change.

“I was transporting Syncrude workers to their job site and thought, ‘why can’t I be part of this?’” says Carla. 

Carla is now a shovel operator with Syncrude’s Mildred Lake Mining Team 502. She first started at Syncrude operating trucks, progressed to operating graders and bulldozers, and then as a groundsperson/Shovel Oiler assisting those operating shovels by setting up cable stands and signage, filling in for operator breaks, and so on. 

About 12 years ago, she began operating one of Syncrude’s larger electric shovels, P&H 4100 Centurion Boss Electric Shovel, which she still runs today. Her husband Jason, a shovel operator she met at Syncrude, also runs the same equipment. 

Carla’s father also worked at Syncrude for 27 years, which means her sons are third generation Syncrude. “I couldn’t be prouder of what my two boys are doing,” says Carla. “As a parent, it gives peace of mind to know they are doing well in their careers. It’s also reassuring they have safety engrained in them.”

Carla’s son, Brody, Shovel Oiler , became interested in mining equipment when he attended a take your kid to work day with his mom years ago. “It was an incredible day where he got onto equipment and toured our work areas at Syncrude. He knew right then that this is where he wanted to be,” says Carla. 

Her other son, Brandon, Shovel Oiler, is proud to follow in similar footsteps: “My mom opened the doors for us to be interested in this field of work. I’m really proud of and thankful for her.” 

Seeing generations working side-by-side is not uncommon across Syncrude and Suncor, especially for the sites that have been in operation for decades like Mildred Lake, Aurora, and Suncor’s Base Plant. 

“I never imagined I’d be operating a piece of equipment of this size,” says Carla. “It’s a privilege to do what I do, and to work in the same career field as my husband and two sons. It goes to show that anything is possible.”