Oilfield Dads Facebook group helps Albertans weather economic downturn

"I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that joined," says a Sylvan Lake man who set up an online support group for oilfield workers struggling to find work.

Chad Miller started site to reassure oilpatch workers struggling to find work that they're not alone

Chad Miller started the Oilfield Dads Facebook group to help families struggling as work in the oilpatch dries up. (Facebook )

Oilfield workers in Alberta are turning to social media to help them weather the economic and emotional impact of the downturn.

A Facebook group started by a contractor in Sylvan Lake has drawn thousands of members.

Earlier this year, work in the oilpatch started drying up for Chad Miller, who specializes in project management for oil and gas companies.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that joined and they're still joining- Chad Miller, founder,  Oilfield Dads Facebook group

"Jobs were getting scarce. A lot of projects were getting cancelled. And I was sitting at home wondering where I was going to go and what I was going to do," said Miller, who estimates he has only worked 130 days this year, compared to 290 to 300 last year.

"So, I figured I might as well start Oilfield Dads. Maybe some people could relate."

The Facebook group quickly grew.

"I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that joined and they're still joining," said the father of three.

"People coming together and sharing their stories — I think we get a lot of encouragement and sense of family."

'Not alone'

Its members network, post photographs of their families and share their oilpatch stories.

"Don't be fooled by the name. It's only a name! I have Oilfield moms, sisters, kids, and families that are a part of this neat and refreshing perspective on oilfield lives," said Miller in his introduction to the group on Facebook.

Amanda Jenkins checks the page daily. Her husband, an oilfield contractor, has been struggling to find work this year.

"Just seeing it's not just us. Not feeling so blue. And knowing that there is hope and other people are going through the same thing," she said.

'Blessings in disguise'

Amid all the dismal headlines about the oil price slump, Chad Miller says he hopes workers and their families can find a bit of support and camaraderie at his site.  

Miller says there is an upside to being at home more often with his wife, where she operates an in-home hair salon.

"I was able to be home for my latest daughter's birth, and to witness her first crawl, and her first stand up, and her first word," he said.

"And it wasn't until then that I realized sometimes the downturns in life that we have are blessings in disguise."

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