Following in her father’s footsteps

“I remember coming home from work and telling my family all about the cool things we found while digging,” explains Clarence.

It means a lot to any parent when children take interest in any aspect of their life, whether it be a hobby, a sport or a favourite author. So, when Shovel Operator Clarence Mcgrath’s daughter Layla showed an interest in his work, he was thrilled. But when she became inspired by his love for his job at Syncrude’s Aurora mine, actually followed in her father’s footsteps, adding to the family’s 40-plus years of mining history, he was especially touched.  

Clarence joined Syncrude in 2008 and would share his daily work experiences around the dinner table at home. “It has always been about the people,” says Layla, who is a first-year electrical apprentice at Syncrude. “Dad would say, ‘Aurora – there’s not a better spot or better people.’ He was out all day, he was always busy, helping others where he could.”

A favourite part of the job for Clarence is unearthing interesting things.

“I remember coming home from work and telling my family all about the cool things we found while digging,” explains Clarence. “I’ve uncovered fragments of shell fossils and ammonite (an extinct shellfish), and pieces of trees that are remarkably old.  I’ve seen rocks that were moved by glaciers and are as big as Volkswagens, but shaped perfectly round, like a golf ball.”

It was these types of stories that motivated Layla to enroll in the Syncrude-supported Registered Apprentice Program (RAP) through the Careers: The Next Generation program offered at her school. After being accepted in the RAP, Layla started working with her father at the mine in early 2022, shadowing journeypersons, doing hands-on tasks and learning all about the industry she heard so much about while growing up.

A father and daughter, both wearing blue coveralls, stand side-by-side.
Aurora Shovel Operator Clarence McGrath at work with his daughter Layla, a first year electrical apprentice, by his side, building memories they can both look back on fondly.

The time they get to share together at work is priceless, according to Clarence, “We’ve always been close and I try to lead by example. I get to pick her up in the morning and we have our little routine where we get coffee and drive to work and talk – every day that I get to do that is like a Fathers’ Day present. We are so lucky to get to work together this way.”

Clarence and Layla’s special bond is worth celebrating. Happy Fathers’ Day to Clarence and to all the dads out there.

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