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Kugluktuk man jumps at apprenticeship opportunity, becomes journeyman mechanic

Darren Ihumatak doesn't hesitate to upgrade his skills when a chance presents itself.

Kugluktuk's Darren Ihumatak is a journeyman heavy-duty technician, fully qualified to work on vehicles like dump trucks and graders. Photo courtesy of Darren Ihumatak

That philosophy has taken him from community maintainer – where he often worked with plumbing and heating – to journeyman heavy-duty technician with the Hamlet of Kugluktuk, which has been his employer for the past 10 years.

"The opportunity came up and I just went for it," he said of his journeyman status, which he attained last year, following four years of training. "That was a no-brainer to go for that opportunity and challenge. There's hardly any opportunities for young people around here... it was a good chance to get into something as a career."

Now fully qualified in all aspects of the job, he spends many hours in a hamlet garage maintaining and repairing water and sewer trucks, vacuum trucks, dump trucks, front-end loaders, graders, bulldozers and pickup trucks.

"It's a little bit of everything, almost," he said. "It's all good work."

For the last two years of his apprenticeship, Ihumatak was under the tutelage of hamlet foreman Eugene Coady.

"He's a very knowledgeable guy. He's been around the trade for years," Ihumatak said of Coady.

For the classroom portions of his training, he decided he would experience as much of Alberta as possible, so he enrolled at schools in Vermilion, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Fairview during the four years of his apprenticeship.

"I chose those places because those were the schools that were further east, west, north and south, so I got (to see) a little bit of Alberta there," he explained.

Ihumatak had an interest in repairing snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles while he was growing up.

"That's all we do up here, all the hunting and the fishing, and those are the machines we use," he said, adding that his father, Peter, was a "hands-on" housing maintainer who taught him some basic mechanical skills.

However, over the years, electronics have become more and more common in vehicles, changing the nature of the profession.

"A lot of it is run by wire now, so they're putting a lot of electronics into the training," Ihumatak said.