The first challenge in Skills Canada Nunavut’s at-home skills competition is a cookie bake-off. New challenges are launched every Monday. (Photo courtesy of Skills Canada Nunavut)

Nunavut club launches at-home skills competition for students

New challenges launch each week, with prizes for best entries

By Emma Tranter

With kids in Nunavut out of school until at least April 20 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one group is asking students across the territory to show off their creative sides while staying home.

The annual territorial skills competition, organized by Skills Canada Nunavut, was set to take place on May 2 to May 3 in Iqaluit but was cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.

Skills Canada Nunavut is a non-profit organization that promotes trades and technology career options for northern youth. Skills Canada Nunavut’s clubs usually meet weekly for two to three hours leading up the territorial skills competition.

“Because it was cancelled, and we’re working at home, we’re trying to think of things that we can do to keep our students still engaged with skills that we teach, skills that we encourage them to learn … and keep them interested in learning skills at home,” said Gail Hodder, program co-ordinator at Skills Canada Nunavut.

Hodder and her team decided to launch SkillsNU at Home, a socially distanced and self-isolated skills competition for kindergarten to high school students across the territory.

The competition will present students with a different challenge each week, for nine weeks. Challenges will be announced on Mondays and students will have until Friday each week to submit a photo of their entry.

Each challenge will also include a set of instructions supported by videos or photographs, Hodder said.

The first challenge, which launched on March 30, is called the Great Cookie Bake-Off. Students were asked to bake their favourite cookies and submit a photo of their creations.

Ryan Ohokak, a Grade 6 student in Cambridge Bay, shows off the M&M cookies he made for the Skills Canada Nunavut cookie bake-off. (Photo courtesy of Skills Canada Nunavut)

“Unfortunately we won’t be able to taste the cookies. The entries that are coming in, parents are already saying how yummy they are, so we’re just basing them on their looks. We’re asking parents and kids to send photographs of themselves baking or mixing up their dough,” Hodder said.

The competition will also have guest judges every week who are experts in the field of each challenge. This week, staff from Cambridge Bay’s Saxifrage Cafe will judge the cookie entries.

Challenges will be judged in three age groups, Grade 1 to 5, Grade 6 to 8 and Grade 9 to 12.

Prizes for the best entries in each category include grocery store gift cards, Skills Canada Nunavut merchandise and more, Hodder said.

Competitors are also told to complete the challenges at home, not with friends, and wash their hands often, Hodder said.

Hodder also said Skills Canada Nunavut recognizes that with school cancelled, students might not have access to some of the materials necessary to complete the challenges and is working on ways to help more students participate.

The competition also requires internet access and something to take a photo with, something not all students have, Hodder said.

“We’re trying to reach out to a couple of community organizations and see if a student had made something, they could take it to that organization and then they could take a photo and then send it to us for them,” Hodder said.

“They might not have a device at home, whereas if they go to school they might be able to access computers. So these are the sorts of things that when we design these challenges we’re thinking about all the time.”

Next week’s skills challenge asks students to find an old sweater and turn it into a “crazy hat,” Hodder said. Other upcoming challenges include nail art, photography and hairstyling.

A description and details of the competition and how to enter can be found on the Skills Canada Nunavut Facebook page.

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