Cromer, Man. – There’s a picture on Facebook that keeps floating around. In it, a stick figure in a toque asks himself why he lives in a place where the air stings his face. That picture seemed very apt, standing atop a sand hog trailer near Cromer, Man., where the wind was making the -29 C temperatures much colder indeed.
In less than a minute, any exposed skin on your face was hurting. But if you asked Steve Chuard, the crew-cabber in training on this frac crew, the answer is
simple. He’s here for his boy Dominic, and he’s a long ways from home. Chuard hails from Gananoque, Ont., in the Thousand Islands outside of Kingston. “I
still live there,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for five years.
“Every 15 days the company flies me home, on their dime. In 15, out seven, two weeks on, one off.”
He works for Millennium Stimulation. He’s been with them since the frac company fired up two-and-a-half years ago. Over that time he’s progressed working through the
different roles on a frac crew, including iron truck, pump hand, chem wagon, hydro and blender.
“Now I’m on crewcab, the first white hardhat position,” he said. “The supervisor is in charge of the job. The crew-cabber is in charge of the men and
equipment. He’s outside with the guys.”
The job title comes from the fact that person typically drives a crew-cab truck. It was tough coming back to work after the Christmas break.
“You get used to seeing your kid every day,” Chuard said. “I’m doing it (working hard) so hopefully he doesn’t have to.”
Chuard works out of Estevan, but has no plans to move there. “My son’s in Ontario. I’ll never move away from him,” he said.
The good-paying job out west allows him to pay for hockey for Dominic, as well as put money away for college.
“He says he’ll be like Sydney Crosby, only tough,” Chuard laughed. “I work, go home, and do what he wants to do – hockey, baseball,
soccer. Most of the guys here are just family men, trying to get ahead.”
Asked about attitudes towards fracking back home, Chuard responded, “Out east, it’s all negative. They don’t know what it’s about. They think we’re all dumb and drunk. It’s not easy, working your guts out to provide for your family. It’s not easy reading (in the media) all the negative. Talking anything energy-related
in Ontario or Quebec that’s not hydro or nuclear, there’s no point.”