A group of Kivalliq students will be moving on to represent Nunavut at the national Skills Canada competitions after awards for the territorial finals were handed out last week.
Five students representing the communities of Coral Harbour, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove won first place in their division during the territorial's virtual competition.
A total of 38 students registered throughout the territory but for various reasons, including Covid-19, a number of students were not able to complete the competition.
Most years the competitions are judged in person. However, this year's events were held entirely virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Whale Cove and Coral Harbour will be well represented at the national competition with two students from each community taking home gold in their respective categories.
“On Tuesday we gathered all the kids and parents. So there was kind of large crowd to celebrate,” said Alyssa Whitney, one of two Skills Canada supervisors for Coral Harbour's northern fashion program.
Northern fashion and photography
For Skills Canada's Northern fashion competition, each student was provided with a piece of seal skin and a piece of leather that was divided equally between all participants. On the day the competition started they were given their assignment.
“Their task was to create the mitts and a headband. They had to use seal skin or leather but the rest was up to them,” said Whitney.
The girls had five days to complete the challenge, from the original concept being drawn on paper until the product was finished.
“All of their time was spent on this. They even stayed over lunch break just to get it all done,” she said. “It was showing up first thing in the morning and until they left at the end of the day that's what they were working on.”
Miyah Pudlat, who has been sewing since she was in Grade 7, ended up winning with matching pair of mitts and headband adorned with diamond-shaped designs. She said the week was challenging but that she was excited by the opportunity to compete nationally.
“It's kind of hard but I like it because I've seen people sew nice things and I want to learn,” said Pudlat.
Megan Kalai, also of Coral Harbour, will be representing Nunavut in the photography division. For her challenge she was given six hours to complete four separate tasks. First she had to photograph a mystery item, which ended up being a glass cup, followed by a photo of her choice and an image that conveyed a feeling of isolation. For her image of isolation, Kalai chose to photograph four local throat singers dressed in amautiit and wearing face-masks.
She then had to use Photoshop to make a single photograph out of four different images.
“It was hard. I don't edit photos so the last one was hard,” Kalai said.
More than just medals
Pudlat was one four girls from Coral's Sakku School who took part in the Skills Canada challenge. They are all enrolled in the school's technology studies program, which includes a northern fashion component.
“All of our girls this year that took part were in one of those classes. That's how we recruited them and that's where they learned skills,” said Whitney.
Leonie Netser, who won a silver medal in northern fashion, said the competition brought the four girls in the program closer together.
“We were strangers to each other until we had to work together and encourage each other to finish,” she said.
Even though she didn't take home first place, Netser said she wants to continue post-secondary studies at Arctic College so she can become a seamstress.
“I lost my brother to suicide last year. It was hard to start in school but I'm glad I did and I'm graduating this year.”