Jun 19, 2020
Local Hero Ben Aster
Ben Aster may be new to the LNG Canada project in Kitimat, but he’s already made a big impact. A proud member of the Gitxaala Nation, Ben joined the site’s custodial team in late February, just as the COVID-19 virus crisis was starting to unfold in the rest of Canada.
Ben says he enjoys his work, which involves taking care of the LNG Canada site administration office and, more recently, keeping facilities clean and safe from COVID-19. He’s won over colleagues with his attention to detail and cheerful outlook. Even more impressive, they say, is the compassion and concern he shows for people experiencing difficulties.
On his days off, Ben travels to Prince Rupert, where he and his wife Lorraine help people who are homeless or struggling financially. Ben and Lorraine use their own funds to prepare and distribute meals to those in need. Their initiative began in 2013, when, after a lengthy separation, the couple reconciled and agreed to help others as part of their renewed commitment to each other.
Ben credits his faith—he was ordained as a minister in 2019–and the women in his life for helping him overcome personal challenges he had faced since childhood. “My mom used to feed people too,” he says. “I’m just following her path and her legacy.” A beloved auntie, who co-founded the Mission of the Good Shepherd in downtown Prince Rupert, is another source of inspiration for Ben.
What’s it been like, feeding the less fortunate in the midst of a global pandemic? According to Ben, the folks he and Lorraine help out in Prince Rupert are concerned about the coronavirus, just like everyone else. “They respect physical distancing, just as we do at work,” he says. “They really appreciate the food that we offer them. They all look forward to seeing us.” That’s no surprise. Everyone likes spending time with Ben.