Skills Canada National Competition competitor Pelly Vincent-Braun, left, listens to some advice from his welding mentor Scott Novak during a training session at the Yukon College in Whitehorse on May 14. The competition takes place in Halifax on May 28 and 29. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon youth set to show off their skills to the rest of Canada

Eighteen Yukoners have qualified for the Skills Canada National Competition at the end of the month

When Scott Novak started competing with Skills/Compétences Canada, it forever altered the course of his career.

“To put it lightly, it changed my life for the better,” said the three-time Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) veteran and now welding mentor.

“I got last place the first year I went (to nationals), but you can’t get any place if you don’t compete in the first place,” he said.

Growing up, Novak said, he had little career direction and no one to mentor him. It wasn’t until he started in a sheet metal pre-employment program that an instructor pulled him aside to compliment his welds.

“I didn’t know what my abilities were but they said I should push for it, so I did,” he said.

Novak’s new-found talent took him on a journey across Canada to the SCNCs several times while still an apprentice before he eventually became a mentor with Skills Canada for up-and-coming welders.

This year 19 Yukoners are scheduled to make the trek from the territory to Halifax for the life changing multi-trade and technology national competition.

They will be competing in careers varying from cooking and hair-styling, to welding and 2D animation.

In each discipline, participants are given an example project weeks ahead of time to give them a sense of what they will be expected to complete on competition day, said Samantha Hand, executive director of Skills Canada Yukon. The test project can be altered up to 30 per cent for the competition.

“So they kind of have an idea of what they’re going in to,” she said, “but maybe the measurements change, or the theme changes, or some aspect of (the example project) needs to change.”

Each competition also has a designated time limited for individuals to finish the project in.

Skills Canada has been an invaluable way to encourage youth to not only join the trades, but to value them, Hand said.

“It’s a career that you can make a great living off of, you can be your own boss, you get your hands on something everyday,” she said. “It’s worthwhile, it’s valuable, and it’s what builds Yukon.”

For Hand, the Skills Canada competitions aren’t about winning but more about learning the value of the trades.

“The territorial skills competition is a way for students — high school students and apprentices — to showcase their skills and actually compete,” she said.

“We don’t like to think of it as they have to win to be the best. It’s really about getting to stand beside other carpenters, hair stylists, cooks and learn from them as well.”

Most competitors began training with their mentors for the territorial competition, which took place in April, at the beginning of the year, Hand said. Those who won territorially, would have stepped up their training since then to compete nationally at the end of this month — on May 28 and 29.

Those heading to nationals are in for some challenging surprises, according to both Hand and Novak.

“They have worked so hard and for some people, they’ve never left the territory, they’ve never been in a big city, or haven’t been on a plane in a long time or maybe they’ve never been on a plane,” Hand said.

But the biggest challenge isn’t really something that the competitors can prepare or train for. The biggest challenge is going to be the commotion of the competition itself.

“At the nationals, what a lot of people aren’t ready for is being in a glass house,” Novak said. “You’re sitting there, there’s cameras flashing, TV video cameras literally rolling by, kids pointing at you, other folk taking pictures with their phones, … you’re under a lot of pressure.”

Novak’s apprentice, Pelly Vincent-Braun, has an advantage over his competition this time around, having competed at the SCNC for his first time last year.

Vincent-Braun, a 20-year-old Yukon College welding student, is feeling pretty calm about the situation.

“It’s pretty weird because I have an extensive sporting career so I’m used to having lots of pressure and lots of people watching,” he said with a chuckle. “But then you get to the competition and you sit down for six hours.”

Last year Vincent-Braun placed sixth out of 12 competitors and is training hard to do better this year.

“I have put a lot of pressure on myself trying to do pretty good,” he said. “Just practising as much as I can, to be as prepared as possible.”

Although Hand insists that the competition isn’t about winning, there is quite a bit at stake for people competing at nationals, including possible employers watching.

About a possible first place finish this year, Vincent-Braun said, “That’d be really nice to put on a resumé.”

Contact Crystal Schick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Logan Graf, Dawson City student, competes in cooking at the Skills Canada Yukon territorial competition. Graf won and is going to nationals. As well, the creator of this image, Jude Paraluman, also from Dawson City, is competing in nationals in the photography category. (Jude Paraluman/Yukon News)

Just Posted

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for Oct. 21, 2020

Movie poster for <em>Ìfé,</em> a movie being shown during OUT North Film Festival, which includes approximately 20 different films accessible online this year. (Submitted)
OUT North Film Festival moves to virtual format

In its ninth year, the artistic director said this year has a more diverse set of short and feature films

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Most Read