Iqaluit student takes home silver at national youth skills event
11 students from Nunavut competed against young people from across Canada at 4-day competition
A teenaged activist from Inuksuk High School has made Team Nunavut proud by taking home the silver medal for public speaking at the annual Skills Canada national competition.
Katie Yu, 17, of Iqaluit, is no stranger to public speaking. She has competed virtually before, but this year was her first time taking on the event in person.
It was “really intense to be up there [with] people watching. But yeah, it was a lot of fun,” she said.
The competition, featuring students from across Canada taking part in events that encourage them to get involved in skilled trades and technology, was held from May 24 to 27 in Winnipeg.
Public speaking is a continuation of Yu’s work in activism. Since she was 14, she has been taking on issues such as the environment and climate change.
Her writing has been published by the World Wildlife Fund and recently, at the age of 16, her work appeared in the New York Times after she was one of 10 winners of a worldwide writing contest.
At the skills competition, she said when it came time for the winners to be announced, it was a bit overwhelming.
She said she was “was really nervous. It was kind of a blur. And they said my name and I ran up there.”
The skills competition — akin to an Olympiad for high school-age students in the skilled trades — provided an opportunity for Nunavut teens to showcase their skills to the rest of the country.
This year, 11 Nunavummiut showcased their skills in areas such as carpentry, video production, esthetics and electronics. Another 13 students were invited under the Soaring Skills program to observe the event.
Soaring Skills usually only invites students from the host province, but this year, executive director Janis Devereaux convinced organizers to include kids from Nunavut who might not otherwise be exposed to trades and careers on display at the event.
Devereaux cites growing local talent as a goal for getting students involved the skills competition. Often, “many construction tradespeople [are] brought in from the south in order to service [local] construction needs,” she said.
“It would be so beneficial to have our students, and for the people of Nunavut to have their own trades and technology people [working] their own communities.”
Yu said she is looking to the future and wants to continue her advocacy for the environment in the North, an area she feels doesn’t get as much attention as the south.
For the time being, though, it’s “amazing to have this opportunity to represent Nunavut and work as a team,” she said.