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Iqaluit student wins silver medal for public speaking at Skills Canada competition

Katie Yu, who attends Inuksuk High School, was one of 11 students representing Nunavut in the competition
From foreground, Nunavut’s Daniel Tapatai and Katie Yu cheer on their fellow students at the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg. Tapatai and Yu were joined by 21 other Nunavummiut students on the trip. Photo courtesy of Skills Canada Nunavut

Iqaluit’s Katie Yu won a silver medal in public speaking at the Skills Canada National Competition 2023 in Winnipeg.

The competition, a multi-trade and technology contest for students and apprentices from across the country, occurred on May 25 and 26. Yu, who attends Inuksuk High School, was one of 11 students representing Nunavut in the competition.

Yu’s speech was intended to “encourage people to enter the trades and technologies to address the current worker shortage,” she explained. All competitors had the same theme.

To win a silver medal in a competition she describes as “intense” was an experience she will not forget.

“I feel very excited and proud,” the 17-year-old said. “Running up to the podium and receiving my medal was a super exciting.”

Yu, who was also part of a territorial competition in April, had been honing and practicing her speech for months, and despite being hindered by dental surgery in May, was well prepared by the time she arrived in Winnipeg.

“I practised my speech quite a bit before the trip by recording myself and rehearsing in front of other people,” she said. “I definitely made the most of the time I had.”

A central objective of the Skills Canada national competition is to help “tomorrow’s workforce discover new and exciting careers,” according to the organization’s website.

Yu isn’t sure what career she will pursue when the time comes, but is interested in journalism and media as well as biology and environmental science, and may seek out a job that provides “a combination of the two.”

Whatever she ends up doing, she feels better prepared than ever after her medal win.

“I think that being able to communicate ideas clearly to an audience and think critically on the spot are such important life skills,” she said. “Public speaking has also taught me a lot about the importance of practice and perseverance, and bouncing back from any mistakes I make.”

“No matter what career I pursue, I believe that public speaking is a really beneficial skill that I can use.”

While Yu was the only Nunavummiut to win a medal at this year’s competition, all 11 competitors had a great time in Winnipeg, as did the 12 other students that joined them on the trip to participate in a career symposium, according to Skills Canada Nunavut executive director Janis Devereaux.

“When Katie’s name and the Nunavut Flag appeared on the screen, the energy from our small group was electrifying,” said Devereaux.

Devereaux says there were over 11,000 students from across Manitoba in attendance at the competition – not to mention the competitors from other parts of Canada. To be around so many people was unfamiliar experience for the youths in her care, but they persevered.

“Our students experience unique challenges at the national competition,” she said. “They had to adjust quickly to complete their projects with so many people watching. I am proud to say, every single one of our students pushed through their doubts and fears, and completed their competitions. This in itself gave them something to be proud of.”

About the Author: Tom Taylor

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