Originally from Iraq, Aws emigrated to Ukraine to finish his degree in mechanical engineering. After being displaced by the war, Aws and his family were welcomed as refugees to Burns Lake, B.C., one of the many vibrant and bustling communities along the Coastal GasLink project route.
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 February 2022, Aws and his family have found a new home in Burns Lake, B.C., where their lives have changed forever.
“I always dreamed of living in North America, but it just wasn’t possible,” said Aws. “When I heard that Canada was creating a program to welcome refugees from Ukraine, I realized I had an opportunity to make my dream a reality.”
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.
“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 people who are building much more than a pipeline. They are developing their careers and contributing to northern B.C. communities while developing critical, world-class energy infrastructure that will provide a secure, reliable and sustainable energy alternative to global markets, 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.”
Aws knows firsthand the importance of ensuring secure, reliable energy is available to help the world heat their homes, power their businesses and feed their families. Coastal GasLink is proud to be working with people like Aws to build and provide a critical link to deliver a secure, cleaner energy future for all.
Learn more about Coastal GasLink at coastalgaslink.com.