Preston Kapakatoak has reduced his extra-curricular schedule a bit to concentrate on his school work.
He’s aiming to graduate from Kugluktuk High School next year, so his studies are a priority, but what a summer he had.
The 17-year-old made his way to Winnipeg as a Team Nunavut volunteer and youth ambassador at the Canada Games in late July and early August. In that role, he informed athletes and coaches from elsewhere in Canada of what life is like in the territory.
“It’s pretty amazing when they find out what goes on in Nunavut. They don’t expect Nunavut to be so hot in the summer,” he says, as an example, adding that it reached the mid-30C range in Kugluktuk a few months ago.
Kapakatoak was also chosen to carry Team Nunavut’s flag at the Games’ opening ceremonies, which he considered a huge honour.
“That was the best part of the whole trip,” he says. “I didn’t know if I was smiling or not, but I was just super happy to be the flag bearer. Not very many people get to do that. I was pretty lucky.”
Kapakatoak didn’t compete at the Canada Games, but he is active in soccer and hockey. As a youth councillor in Kugluktuk and a member of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut, he’s an advocate for expanding youth sports. He said a wrestling program would be a good fit for Kugluktuk.
“I’d like to try and make our community a better place for youth – try to get more programs to start and more programs for all the other age groups,” he says, noting that a women’s sewing program is one that the youth council already helped get off the ground.
In addition to those things, Kapakatoak was a supervisor at the summer day camp in Kugluktuk for the second year.
With summer now a memory, the Grade 12 student is back in classes, where he particularly likes the hands-on nature of pre-trades. He says he can envision himself becoming an apprentice electrician after attending a trades school.
When he has spare time over the coming months, Kapakatoak will be buzzing around on his new snow machine.
“I love to get on my snowmobile in the winter,” he says.
He competed in his first snow-cross race at the Nattiq Frolics spring carnival in April and, despite holding the lead for a while, his day came to an abrupt halt when he hit a bump with considerable force, damaging his handle bars and steering.
“I had to stop the race for myself,” he says. “I was kind of bummed out.”
But he has a new Bombardier to get acquainted with when the snow flies.
“I’ll be out there getting used to my machine,” he says, expressing his intention to race at the Frolics again next year.