Yukon techie drafts gold at Skills Canada

Whitehorse's David Lister has golden skills. After taking home silver the last two years, the 20-year-old captured gold at the 21st annual Skills Canada National Competition on Saturday in Saskatoon. “I’m pretty happy with how it went; I can’t really complain, that’s for sure,” said Lister.

Whitehorse’s David Lister has golden skills.

After taking home silver the last two years, the 20-year-old captured gold at the 21st annual Skills Canada National Competition on Saturday in Saskatoon.

“I’m pretty happy with how it went; I can’t really complain, that’s for sure,” said Lister.

“It was pretty routine. I’ve been to so many now, I don’t really get as worked up about them as I used to, so I was a lot more relaxed going into it, which probably helped quite a bit. I also knew what got me the points in the marking scheme and what didn’t, so I was able to better manage my time.”

Lister, who was a member of Skills Canada Yukon’s team, took first place in post-secondary mechanical CADD, which stands for computer-aided drafting and design. Mechanical CADD involves using a computer to design three-dimensional parts for practically anything, from robots to cars, for a prototype or something to be mass-produced.

Lister and his competition had a number of tasks to complete at the event to demonstrate their skills in measuring, computer drafting and 3D modeling.

“I think all of the competitors were fairly close,” said Lister. “I tended to do best in the reverse modeling, or reverse engineering, where we were given a part. And in the section in which we were given a difficult part to model on the computer.”

Saturday’s national competition was Lister’s sixth in a row. He was introduced to mechanical CADD by his friend Denis Godin who was the first Yukoner to win a gold medal at the national Skill Canada contest in 2009.

After winning silver in 2012, Lister went on to win a bronze at the 2012 WorldSkills America in Brazil.

“Next year is a qualifying year for WorldSkills, an international competition, and I’ll definitely be going again next year if I get the same result,” said Lister.

Lister, who is a graduate of Whitehorse’s F.H. Collins Secondary, just finished his first-year at Carleton University in Ottawa where he is studying engineering physics.

“I thank Skills Canada to allow me to go to the competition,” said Lister. “Skills Canada has definitely helped me in terms of both career prospects and schooling.”

The Skills Canada nationals saw about 500 up-and-coming tradespeople from every province and territory compete. In the Olympic-style competition, people are evaluated by a panel of judges who base their decisions on industry standards.

Like in 2012, Lister was the only Yukoner to bring home a medal this year, but still, “It was a great year,” said Skills Canada Yukon executive director Megan Freese. “Team Yukon had very compassionate competitors. Pretty much all of our competitors finished fifth, sixth and seventh. That’s really good considering there were a lot of first-timers at the national competition.

“The competitors who have gone in the past, worked hard prior to the national competition and they jumped quite a few spots from their last competition.”

Other top Yukon finishers include Leif Blake taking fifth in secondary mechanical CADD, Scott Novak fifth in post-secondary welding, Donald Hornby sixth in post-secondary electrical installations and Brooke Fusick sixth in workplace safety.

Skills Canada Yukon sent a team of 26, with 18 competitors plus coaches and staff, down from a team of 32 last year.

“What’s changed with those numbers is, in the past we took judges … but right now we currently have 12 people from the Yukon sitting on the national technical committee for the national competition,” said Freese. “They are people involved in planning the competition for the nation. So who we took as part of Yukon in the past are now part of these committees and don’t actually travel with the team, but are still there representing the Yukon.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


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