*Photos courtesy of Amie Roberts Photography, on behalf of Your McMurray Magazine*
Muhammad Ehtisham feels that multiculturalism and the opportunities for equality are some of the best qualities of his community.
His love for the community truly shines through his active volunteer efforts: board member of the Multicultural Association as Treasurer then General Board Director, Chief Judge for the Wood Buffalo Science Foundation’s regional science fair, on the boards of both the Regional Advisory Committee on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and Choices, Advisory Council Member for Mental Health for the Northern Lights Foundation, and Treasurer and then Advisory Council Member for more than 15 years with Markaz UI Islam & Fort McMurray Islamic School.
“I am most proud of the services I provide to the community, and my progressive achievements at work,” says Muhammad.
As the General Manager of Operational Risk and Enterprise Technical, he feels most rewarded when he is ensuring safety of the personnel, equipment and the environment and strengthening the people around him to be their absolute best.
When Rachel Elser’s not working as a Senior Operation Advisor/Start-Up and Commissioning Leader at the Syncrude site, she is supporting local charities in her community such as the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club, YMM pride events and Swamp Rat Experience, a non-profit theatre society.
“Community is like those circular ripples in a pond. Each ring is a characteristic in your life that you choose to surround you. And you may be part of another person’s ring,” says Rachel. “These rings, and the interactions between them, make up an individual’s community.”
Rachel is a key member of Suncor’s PRISM Employee Inclusion Network. She says through her work, she values collaboration as she can learn from people spanning from different opinions, ideas and backgrounds.
“I wear two very different hats for two different careers,” says Thomas Hopkins.
Thomas is a man with strong versatility who supports Suncor as an Intermediate Tailings Planning Engineer but also runs Thomas Hopkins Photography, where he captures the community through video and photography.
Within his career as both an engineer and photographer, Thomas values community, connecting with new and returning clients and the friends he has met along the way.
“I have met some of the best Fort McMurray has to offer when it comes to clients I get to shoot with. I think my favourite part is getting to reconnect with repeat clients over the years and watching their families change with marriages, new kiddos, birthdays and graduations.”
Thomas also volunteers with the 868 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron and is the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for FuseSocial.
Annie Rivers is a mother of three, a burlesque dancer and a mechanical engineer. Within her community, she can be found exploring the outdoors through biking, hiking, swimming and camping. However, in her community, it is through people where she finds her strength.
“Community is a sense of belonging. As individuals, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Communities are places to get help where we are weak and to lift where we are strong.”
Through her role on the Pride YMM Board of Directors, an organization she once relied on within her own coming out journey, she is now able to give back to her community through volunteering.
“You are the only person you will spend every moment of your life with. Be the best version of yourself for you and trust that the right people will come, stay, or leave,” says Annie.
From sitting on the boards of United Way of Wood Buffalo Fort McMurray, the United Conservative Party in his constituency and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Michael values curiosity, love and is an ambitious advocate for mental health.
“I care more about people now than I ever have in my life. I am more thoughtful in my words and actions because I understand my impact more today than I did then. So, I try and focus on how I am affecting the world around me more. I am still working on it as I expect I will always be,” says Michael.
This reflects through his work as a Health and Safety Advisor, where Michael aided in creating the mental health training course, Mental Health 101 for Suncor’s learning management program, to normalize the conversation surrounding people’s mental health.
“The accomplishment I am most proud of is breaking down barriers between workers and supervisors to facilitate psychologically safe conversations that generate positive impacts for the worker and the company,” says Michael.
Congratulations to Muhammed, Rachel, Thomas, Annie and Michael and to all of YMM’s Top 50 under 50 recipients. As we reflect on their incredible work within the Fort McMurray community, we want to recognize all volunteers – reflected here or not – for their dedication of time, energy and passion to support their communities throughout the year and making a difference in the lives of others. Through our SunCares program, we support employee engagement, volunteering and donation opportunities and the causes that are important to them.