Dawson Vanderwiel (left) and Dakota Donaldson work on their entries for this year's Skills Canada competition Friday at Timberline. Vanderwiel won the competition and is on his way to Abbotsford for the provincial championships April 4.

Six local students move on from Skills Canada Regionals

Timberline hosts this year's annual trades competition for high schoolers

Over 120 students took part in the annual Skills Canada regional competition last Friday, with six from Campbell River winning their respective contests and moving on to the provincial competition April 4 in Abbotsford.

The regional event is generally held in Campbell River one year then down in Courtenay the next, and this year was Timberline’s turn to play host.

“There’s all sorts of stuff happening,” says Timberline woodshop teacher and regional Skills Canada organizer Paul Klein taking a moment away from the commotion. “There’s 2D and 3D computer animation, website development and graphic design, there’s TV/video production, there’s welding, there’s digital art and carpentry/cabinet making, there’s electronics and some junior skills activities like this gravity track, where the younger kids have made cars out of wood and they’re racing them down the track. It’s just amazing how much there is going on.”

In many of the competitions, the students don’t even know what they’re going to be doing before they walk in the door.

“They can develop the skills in class, and they can practice as much as they can, but when they show up, they have no idea what the contest it going to be,” Klein says.

The “why” of the event, Klein says, is simple.

“Well, for fun,” he says with a laugh. “But also to give kids a little sniff to make them think about maybe working with their hands in the future. Maybe if they give this a try and end up enjoying it, they might want to think about a career in trades after high school – or even during high school, because now you can do the ACE IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training) program through the school and start a trades program and it’s all paid for.”

The event gives middle school students a chance to get some hands-on learning in the trades, as well.

“We get these middle school kids from Phoenix who may never otherwise get a chance to come here – because they are a feeder school for Carihi – so they might never get to go into the welding shop here, but we took them around and showed them everything, they got to watch some welding being done, they got to look at the humongous shear and actually took a few pieces of metal home, and maybe it got a few of them thinking they want to come check it out again when they get a little bit older and saw that hey, maybe there are opportunities that doesn’t always mean going off to university.”

The six students from Campbell River who won their respective contests and now continue on to the provincial competition April 4 at the Abbotsford TradeX are Brenden Finnerty and Bryan Gabutan of Timberline (3D Computer Animation), Dawson Vanderweil of Timberline (Cabinetmaking), Evyn Parnell of Timberline (Website Development), Natalie Flottvik of Carihi (Culinary Arts) and Jeremy McInnes of Carihi (Carpentry).