HGTV host and celebrity builder Paul Lafrance was in Yellowknife last weekend to celebrate National Skilled Trades and Technology Week with Skills Canada Northwest Territories at the 2nd Annual Dominion Diamond Blue Collar Gala. Businesses, trades professionals, apprentices, and community members came together to celebrate, and talk about the importance of trades and technology in our community. The Dominion Diamond Blue Collar Gala also serves as an annual fundraiser for Skills Canada NWT, which is a registered charity with a mission to promote careers in skilled trades and technology to northern youth.
The evening began as Krystal Pidborochynski, Vice President of Skills Canada NWT, introduced herself as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Krystal welcomed Minister Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment for the Government of the Northwest Territories, who spoke; as well as Travis Stewart, President of Skills Canada NWT, who delivered a heartfelt speech about the need to encourage young people to explore careers in trades and technology.
Skills Canada NWT was thrilled to announce its three scholarship recipients for 2018. These $1,500 scholarships were awarded to three students from the NWT who are pursuing an education in trades or technology. Cassidy Villeneuve, (Digital Communications, Lethbridge College) Francis Ratelle (Carpentry, Aurora College, Boiler Controls & Installations Ltd.) and Shane Bailey (Housing Maintainer, Nunavut Arctic College, Norman Wells Housing Authority) were all recognized for their remarkable academic success.
In addition to recognizing scholarship recipients, Skills Canada NWT also awarded Karis Dekwant, of Inuvik, the first ever Outstanding Alumni Award for her achievements both at the Skills Canada NWT Regional and Territorial Competitions, and at the Skills Canada National Competition where she became a two-time national gold medallist in the secondary Baking competition.
The keynote speaker at the Gala was Paul Lafrance – host of Decked Out, Disaster Decks, and Custom Built, which all air on HGTV. He is also the host of the new upcoming series Backyard Revolution! Paul discussed his own journey into the trades, and talked about the importance of exposing youth to the variety of career opportunities in the skilled trades and technology sectors.
In addition to being a successful fundraiser for Skills Canada NWT, the Dominion Diamond Blue Collar Gala also serves as an amazing opportunity to showcase the many programs and events that are held by Skills Canada NWT throughout the year. “Our goal is to expose students to as many skills as possible before they finish high school. We want them to make informed decisions about what to do after high school, and enter into exciting and fulfilling careers sooner”, said Ali Kincaid, Executive Director, Skills Canada NWT.
Skills Canada NWT would like to thank Dominion Diamond Mines for their continued support and making this event possible, as well as the sponsors, partners and friends who assisted not only with the Gala, but contribute to Skills Canada NWT programs and events throughout the year.
16 competitors from the Northwest Territories, and over 550 competitors in total, travelled from across Canada to Edmonton, Alberta, to compete in 44 skill areas, in the 2018 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC), on June 4th & 5th.
Team Northwest Territories included competitors in Automobile Technology, Baking, Cabinetmaking, Cooking, Electrical Installations, Graphic Design Technology, Hairstyling, Job Skill Demonstration, Outdoor Power and Recreation Equipment, Photography, Public Speaking, Video Production, and Welding. These skilled students and apprentices were tested over the course of the two-day contest, and the top placing competitors in each category were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the closing ceremony on June 6th.
“This competition is such an incredible event.” Says Ali Kincaid, Executive Director of Skills Canada NWT who serves as Team Leader for Team NWT at this event. “The trades and technology sectors offer wonderful and fulfilling careers. Witnessing the level of skill demonstrated by these young students and apprentices, who are the next generation of trades and technology professionals, gives me hope for the future of Canada.”
During the SCNC, the Edmonton Expo Centre saw over 6,000 visitors to the event, including students from local schools, industry leaders, family members and even celebrity guests – including HGTV’s Sherry Holmes, Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell. Visitors took part by observing the dozens of skill contests and cheering on competitors. They were also able to participate in any number of over 50 different Try-A-Trade/Technology activities hosted onsite.
Team Northwest Territories took home four medals this year, with several other strong finishes. NWT medallists included:
Karis Dekwant – East Three Secondary School, Inuvik – GOLD (Baking)
Pyper Legge – Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife – SILVER (Cooking)
Robert Heron – Dominion Diamond Mines, Yellowknife – BRONZE (Electrical Installations)
Robert Warren – Ideal Woodwork, Yellowknife – BRONZE (Cabinetmaking)
Skills Canada NWT relies heavily on the support of government and industry. “Without the support of local NWT schools and businesses, we would not have a team to send to this event each year.” says Kincaid. “There are some incredible employers and educators across the NWT that believe in what we do and support this initiative wholeheartedly. They contribute financially, they give of their time, and they encourage and support their apprentices and students to compete in their chosen trade or skill area.”
Skills Canada NWT is already beginning preparations for the 2019 Territorial Skills Competition and Skills Canada National Competition. If you would like to compete or get involved, please contact our office.
The 2019 Skills Canada National Competition will be held at the Halifax Exhibition Centre, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 28 – 29, 2019.
Reece Head (École St. Patrick High School, Yellowknife) – Welding
Robert Heron (Dominion Diamond Mines, Yellowknife) – Electrical Installations (PS)
Reece Pineo (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Automobile Technology
Jovian Pokiak (East Three Secondary School, Inuvik) – Outdoor Power & Recreation Equipment
Ryan Snyder (PolarTech Recreation, Yellowknife) – Outdoor Power & Recreation Equipment (PS)
Karis Dekwant (East Three Secondary School, Inuvik) – Baking
Torin Dowe (Aurora Welding, Yellowknife) – Welding (PS)
Dylan Harker (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Graphic Design Technology
Aafreen Khan (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Public Speaking
Pyper Legge (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Cooking
Lodina Martin-Ferron (École St. Patrick High School, Yellowknife) – Photography
Savanna Moore (Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Hay River) – Job Skill Demonstration – Traditional Sewing
Robert Warren (Ideal Woodworking, Yellowknife) – Cabinetmaking (PS)
Lisa Weaver (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Video Production
Braeden Cordero (École Sir John Franklin High School, Yellowknife) – Video Production
Jasmine Keogak (East Three Secondary School, Inuvik) – Hairstyling