(left. Not CH)
After he was hired by Canadian Natural Resources in Northern Alberta, Corey Hagopian was deceived, tested and quarantined in primitive unsanitary conditions, against his will.
by Kinsey Nordlund
Imprisoned - blacklisted - unemployable - lines - mind games - terror tactics - lies - nondisclosure agreements - rotten food - submit - signing documents under duress - you don't have a choice - snitches.
What do these words have in common? A worksite in Northern Alberta.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a wonderful young man last Sunday.
Corey Hagopian and his girlfriend sold everything they owned in Ontario for the promise of a better future in Alberta.
What he encountered at on a job site in Northern Alberta was nothing short of a nightmare. Trained in electronics engineering as a technician with a specialty in non-destructive testing and ultrasonics, he was hired to work at a [oil company] Canadian National Resources (CNQ) site in Northern Alberta.
He was told he would be working 40 minutes from Edmonton; they failed to mention that was by plane. When Corey found out he would be flying into camp he asked about being Covid tested. He was told no he wouldn't be tested; that they could not force him to be tested.
He got on the plane and at the other end of the ride, he was told to line up for a test. He managed to avoid being tested then but they came looking for him the next morning demanding he be tested.
He managed to escape that test to get into the field to work but that evening his trainer insisted he needed to be tested. Corey responded by repeating that he was told he wouldn't be forced to test.
The trainer said that he couldn't force Corey to test but they could force him off the site if he refused. Corey thought about it and decided that if he was going to be forced to test then he didn't want to work there.
He was told he couldn't get off the property by bus, car, or plane without being tested. He was trapped. He agreed to the first test; he spoke to the nurses explaining he had a sinus issue and to please be careful. The nurse was anything but careful, the next morning when he bent to tie his shoes his nose began to bleed and proceeded to ooze blood for the next few days.
Although he was upset and angry about the violation of his person and his personal rights it appeared to be a one-time thing and he could get his months shift in and go home.
Before the first week was out the one-time test turned to every 72 hours; then every 48 hours, then by the end of the week it was everyday.
Not agreeing with their protocols, he said once he was paid for the first week he was leaving. That first weeks pay was withheld. He continued to put up with procedures trying to get to the next payday so he could leave.
On the 11th day in camp being tested everyday, he was told he had a positive result. When he asked to see the results, he was denied.
He was ordered to pack his things he was being moved to an isolation unit.
INCENTIVES TO VICTIMIZE PEOPLE
I shared Corey's story with a friend I know who also worked up north. He told me that Alberta Health Services pays the company for every person in Covid isolation.
They pad the numbers to increase the amount of money they receive from the government. Remember the government doesn't produce anything to make their income and thus the money they give to these companies comes directly out of taxpayer's pockets. They may only have 50 people isolated but they tell AHS that they have 100 or 200.
If AHS plans an inspection, a tip off to the inspection results in moving people into the isolation unit, suddenly someone who has no symptoms and negative tests upon arrival are positive.
The isolation unit Corey was moved into hadn't been cleaned. There was feces on the floor in the bathroom, sneeze droplets dried on the table, the bed had sleep imprints and dirty linen from the previous occupant.
When Corey complained he was told to clean it himself, there were towels, cleaning product and gloves already waiting for him. Corey continued to demand his right and wanted to leave. He was told that he would need his home isolation plan approved before he could leave.
Strangers hearing of his plight offered to bring his car to him so he could leave. While he wrote his plan, the strangers got the keys to his car, and started the 10-hour drive to get him. He was lucky he had moved to Alberta, those who work there who are not Alberta residence are not allowed to leave, full stop and forced to endure these conditions.
AHS approved his plan the next day, but he wasn't notified that it had been approved for another four days. While interned in this makeshift prison, his meals were meager and stale. Much of it was rotten and uneatable. While waiting for his approval, he learned that there were others who were in the same situation.
He managed to help three young women to escape as well. One of the pair coming with his car, told him to call the RCMP and tell them what was happening. Corey took the advice, spoke with a constable from Ft MacMurray explained the situation, forwarded his AHS plan and that people were coming for him.
That evening guards and nurses on site called the RCMP reporting that Corey was threatening to pull the fire alarms, telling people he would give them Covid and being disruptive. When the constable called Corey to find out what was going on, Corey was baffled.
He hadn't left his room; he hadn't threatened anyone with anything beyond his knowledge of his own human rights. The constable was confused, but fortunately believed Corey. When Corey's ride didn't arrive right on time, the guards harassed him, goading him with questions like was he sure someone was coming? Did he know what day it was? Did he know his name?
Questioned one would be asked if given the Montreal Cognitive Test. While packing on his last day, he heard a woman crying out his window. She was telling the persons on the other end of the phone that she couldn't stay in those conditions, but she couldn't lose her job, she had a mortgage and children to support. Corey found her and they talked. He promised he'd get her out too.
His whole time in the CNQ camp he was harassed and treated poorly. Those who comply with the rules and all the testing are treated like royalty, those who don't are treated like prisoners. Everyday you are given contact tracing forms or what the employees call 'snitch' forms. You are required to tell on anyone you see cough, sneeze, or blow their nose.
Anyone who takes more than 15 minutes to eat or had their mask below their nose. You don't need to test positive to find yourself in isolation, you need only be close to someone in your 'bubble' who may have been in contact with someone who may be positive.
My friend said that even showers are monitored by a guard at the door. If you take more than 15 minutes to undress, shower, dry and redress, you are made to explain why you took so long. He said everything is a line and a time limit. A line up for room assignments, a line up for a test, a line up for meals and lunch preparation. Every second of your day is scheduled. He too was not told before he arrived what to expect.
I can only assume employees are not told the truth because if they were, they would never agree to go. My friend managed to stick it out a few months before he could no longer take it and quit. He and Corey both told me they were denied access to their test results, new people on site are not told of their rights. Many comply out of fear. Fear of losing their employment and being blacklisted from ever working in the industry again.
My friend was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement that will fine him $500,000 if he openly discusses the inhumane treatment they endure. Corey wasn't sure if he signed such a document, but that ship has sailed.
Sunday at a rally in Calgary Corey spoke in front of a crowd for the first time regarding his experience. After meeting many in the crowd, some who believed him and some who didn't, he was pulled aside by a young woman asking for help. Her partner was in the same circumstance as Corey, and she was scared for his safety. . As we spoke, we counted seven people with remarkably similar experiences. He has met people from all over Alberta who applaud him for his courage to speak out, to not be silenced into submission. I
If you or someone you know has experience similar treatment in one of these northern camps and would like help either escaping or just to help in solidarity, please contact me at [email protected] or Corey at [email protected]