to valleyview and beyond

Thirteen years ago, Joshua Kutryk was delivering the Yukon News in Valleyview. The 13-year-old paperboy dealt with growly dogs, nasty cold spells and tightwad customers. Today, he wants to go to the moon.

Thirteen years ago, Joshua Kutryk was delivering the Yukon News in Valleyview.

The 13-year-old paperboy dealt with growly dogs, nasty cold spells and tightwad customers.

Today, he wants to go to the moon.

Well OK, not the moon specifically – though he probably wouldn’t turn the mission down if it was given to him. He does, however, want to go to space.

And he has a shot at it.

Kutryk has been shortlisted in the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment campaign.

The campaign began in May. The space agency received 5,351 applications.

Preliminary interviews culled the field to 79. Kutryk made the cut.

Robotics, flight operation and physical tests took it to 39 candidates. Kutryk made the cut.

Survival tests - which gauged the ability to perform and solve problems in high-stress environments – took the field to 31 candidates. The former Yukon paperboy passed that one too.

Medical and psychological exams eliminated another 15.

Kutryk is one of 16 still standing.

Two of ‘em will become Canadian astronauts.

After leaving our employ, Kutryk joined the local cadet movement. He stuck with the military, and currently flies F-18s for the Canadian Armed Forces.

He’s 26 years old—the youngest candidate vying to become a spaceman. The field’s average age is 36.

It’s a hell of an accomplishment.

Now it’s down to the finale.

“This is probably one of the strangest calls you’re going to get,” said Kathy, his mom, during a phone call that came out of the blue.

“My son used to work for the Yukon News…”

Delivering our paper was his first job, she said. He did it with his brother, and it laid the foundation for their working life, she added.

The boys delivered the News for five years, between 1991 and 1996.

That simple job taught them a lot about responsibility and dealing with people, she said.

The family lived in the territory until Barry Kutryk, then an RCMP officer stationed here, retired to the family farm in Myrnam, Alberta.

“Now, I need to ask you a favour …”

The CBC is drumming up support for the final 16. Its website has a link to a forum that allows people to vote for their favourite astronaut candidate. (You’ll find it at http://www.cbc.ca/photogallery/canada/2062/.)

The star search site allows one vote per candidate from each e-mail.

Kathy Kutryk wanted the newspaper to post a vote for their former paperboy.

We told her we’d do one better.

Josh Kutryk is No. 14 on the list. He’s dubbed Young Gun.

Anybody who remembers him from his days humping papers in Valleyview can cast a vote for him at the address above.

Anyone else who wants a Yukon-raised astronaut in space should also cast a vote for the guy.

It won’t guarantee Kutryk a shot at space, said Kathy and Barry - they aren’t naive enough to think the Canadian Space Agency will pin the future of its program on a simple talent search.

But astronauts have always been national ambassadors, and an informal show of public support for a candidate can’t hurt their chances either, said the Kutryks.

So cast your vote for the guy.

And send a Yukon paperboy to space. (Richard Mostyn)