It was a three-peat for Luke Heal at the Skills Canada NWT territorial carpentry competition last weekend.

Luke Heal checks his measurements during the Skills NWT Carpentry competition this past weekend.
Dylan Short/NNSL photo

The Sir John Franklin High School student was able to edge out the competition to take home first place for the third year in a row.

“It feels really good (to win)” said Heal. “This was my third year competing.”

The carpentry contest took center stage as each competitor attempted to build a four-foot wooden structure directly in the center of the Ed Jeske arena at the Yellowknife Multiplex on Friday and Saturday.

“The project I had to build was a playhouse,”said Heal. “We were given 12 hours to build it, so six hours on the first day and six hours on the second day.”

Heal was not the only winner, as secondary and post-secondary students competed in 19 different disciplines ranging from automobile technology to video production. The annual territorial competition is Skills Canada NWT’s marquee event for students to showcase trades in the territory.

“This is an opportunity for them to showcase what kind of talent they have.” said Allison Kincaid, executive director of Skills Canada NWT. “I think, often times, we look at trades and we see them as needed, but we don’t necessarily appreciate what they do for us.”

The competition took place alongside a career expo on Friday and Saturday. Students from schools across the city were bused to the event in order to watch and learn about different career opportunities in the trades.

“Hopefully, we showed a younger generation of kids who all came to our competition on Friday, that these are opportunities for you if you are interested in working with your hands and building and creating,”said Kincaid.

For the winners, including Heal, the territorials will only be the first step in their competitions as they will now have the opportunity to travel to Skills Canada’s national competition in Edmonton later this year. An event that Heal expects to bring a higher level of competition to the table.

“I don’t really expect to win a medal down there, I always just like having fun and learning new things,” said Heal.

Even if Heal doesn’t win a medal he believes that the lessons he learns while competing will help with his carpentry in the future, a field he is currently considering to begin as a career after he graduates in June.

“The actual building side of things, like getting some tips on more accurately follow plans and read drawings and blueprints, but also the whole experience of the skills competition,” Heal said, when asked what he can take forward from the competition.

While Heal is looking at the national competition as a learning experience, if he does win a gold, he could be eligible to travel to the world skills competition to compete against the best trades students on the planet.

The NWT has previously sent one student to the world’s competition in 1992 where the territory won a gold medal in web design.

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