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Junior chiefs enjoy their day in Rankin Inlet

Fire Chief Mark Wyatt and members of the Rankin Inlet Fire Department recently welcomed their six 2019 junior fire chiefs for the day to the fire station for all sorts of fun and tasty goodies.

The six 2019 junior fire chiefs for the day were Leo Ussak Elementary School students: Kalluk Eecherk (Kindergarten); Naomi Osborne (Grade 1); Ariana Makpah (Grade 2); Gianna Hernandez (Grade 3); Lila Hunter (Grade 4); and Princess Rachael Grace (Grade 4).

Leo Ussak Elementary School students, from back to front, Lila Hunter, Gianna Hernandez, Kalluk Eecherk, Princess Racheal Grace, Ariana Makpah and Naomi Osborne proudly display their certificates declaring then junior fire chiefs for the day in Rankin Inlet in November. Photo courtesy Mark Wyatt

The Leo Ussak students were awarded their fire chiefs designations when they were selected as the top young artists in the Rankin Fire Department’s third annual Fire Prevention Week drawing contest at their school.

Among the perks and prizes for being named junior fire chiefs on Wednesday, Nov. 27 were being chauffeured to and from their school, a pizza party for lunch, complete with a young chief’s cake, a $25 certificate from the Northern Store, having lunch at the fire station and enjoying some tender time with a group of happy puppies and, of course, hanging out and having a whole lot of fun with a small group of local firefighters.

Chief Wyatt said the entries to the drawing contest are judged by the officers in the Rankin department.

He said it can be a little tough selecting the winners, especially when one considers every student at Leo Ussak Elementary School enters the contest.

“Some of the entries stand out for how well they’re drawn, some stand out for how imaginative they are, and some stand out because you can see from the entry the kids were paying attention to our presentations at the school,” said Wyatt.

“Obviously each entry is usually impacted by the age of the student submitting it, but the picture should indicate they picked-up on something we were trying to teach them during Fire Prevention Week.”

Leo Ussak Elementary School students, from left, Kalluk Eecherk, Ariana Makpah, Lila Hunter, Princess Racheal Grace, Naomi Osborne and Gianna Hernandez enjoy some fun-filled puppy time during their time as junior fire chiefs for the day in Rankin Inlet in November. Photo courtesy Mark Wyatt

Wyatt said sometimes the contest’s younger winners can be a little intimidated by all the attention at first, but they all seem to have a pretty good time overall.

He said the junior chiefs always love being driven back and forth to school in the fire truck and spending time at the station for lunch.

“The kids do look up to us a bit in the community and that might mean a bit more these days with the shifting dynamic within the station,” said Wyatt.

“We have eight applicants for the department in our recruitment drive this year and seven of them are women.

“We have six females in our department now and, if all these current applicants get in, we’ll be a female-dominated department in Nunavut.

“This has been a gender-specific industry for a long time, but the women in our department step-up and do a great job and we’re proud of the make-up of our department.”