Yukoners win at national skills competition

From hairstyling to 2D animation to plumbing, Yukoners have some serious skills. Once again, this was clear at the Skills Canada National Competition held last week in Quebec City.

From hairstyling to 2D animation to plumbing, Yukoners have some serious skills. Once again, this was clear at the Skills Canada National Competition held last week in Quebec City.

For the first time at the national competition, Skills Yukon won two gold medals in one year. Yukon tradespeople also took in two silvers and almost reached the podium twice more with a pair of fourth-place finishes.

“We’ve come back with five and six medals respectively, but we’ve never come back with so much gold and silver. It’s really great,” said Dan Curtis, president of Skills Yukon. “In all these years we’ve only gotten a couple golds, so we’re really excited to get two in one year. It’s really amazing.”

For both the two Yukon gold winners, Denis Godin and Nathan Peterson, it’s their third consecutive medal at the nationals.

Godin, who won in mechanical computer-assisted drafting, captured the Yukon’s first-ever gold at the nationals in 2009.

“I was really happy that I was able to get those results,” said the 19-year-old. “It’s always a tough competition and I thought I did well.”


Godin, who won a silver last year, will be starting his third year at the University of Alberta for industrial design this fall. He is currently working at FSC Architects & Engineers for the summer.

“In the past I’ve worked for Quantum Machine Works, where I got most of my training, and I worked for Icefield Tools (Corporation) last year,” said Godin. “I’m being introduced to architectural drafting, which is a lot different from mechanical drafting,”

Paterson’s gold came in heavy-duty mechanics, adding to a gold from last year and a bronze in 2009.

“I wasn’t expecting a gold, but I guess it all worked out,” said Peterson. “It was fun competing.”

For his medal, Peterson had to complete some hydraulic work on an excavator, electrical work on a truck and a pair of engine projects over a 12-hour competition. The toughest part was, “The stress of the judges and people watching,” said Peterson, who hones his craft while working at Pacific Truck and Trailer Repair in Whitehorse.

A good indication for the future, the two silver medalists were both first-time competitors. Geordo Matechuk won his silver in plumbing while fellow Yukoner Mike Trainor won his in electrical installations.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Curtis of Trainor’s medal. “He’s a first-year guy at Yukon College and to go against third- and fourth-year people, in one of the most competitive disciplines in Canada, and to get a silver really speaks for his employer. He works for Dynamic Systems and they’ve done a great job with him.”

Yukon’s two fourth-place finishes came from Leah Battersby for sheet metal mechanics and David Lister in secondary mechanical CADD.

Lister, one of eight secondary school competitors out of Whitehorse, missed getting a medal by just four points out of 1,000.

“We came really, really close with the fourth places,” said Curtis.

Established in 1998, Skills Yukon won just two medals over the first decade at the nationals. However, over the last four appearances, the Yukon has won 21. A total of 21 Yukoners competed in 16 trades at this year’s nationals, which was the largest ever with over 500 participants.

“We had great representations, as we always do,” said Curtis. “We had a lot of people here from Yukon College and Yukon industry. Yukon industry has really come to the plate. They really take care of their apprentices and give them good resources to ensure they will be able to make it. We are so pleased that industry is really making this happen, more than any level of government, or even the schools.

“That’s why we are having the success that we are, because of the industry involvement.”

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