Best of the best in sport honoured

by James McCarthy- October 20, 2017

There are plenty of people who do good work in the field of recreation, and some were recognized in Iqaluit earlier this month at the 2017 Recreation and Sport Awards Gala. A total of 10 awards were handed out along with some special mentions to volunteers in various sports.

Cathy Lawton of One Ocean Expeditions presents the Youth Leader of the Year award to Preston Kapatakoak at the 2017 Sport and Recreation Awards celebration and dinner Oct. 14 at the Frobisher Inn in Iqaluit. – photo courtesy Michel Albert

The first award of the evening went to Keith Collier of Arviat, who received the Recreation Leader of the Year honour. Collier was recognized for making recreation programs inclusive and open to youth in the community. He’s also been one of the main organizers of the Jon Lindell Memorial Calm Air Cup senior men’s hockey tournament each year and helped make the outdoor sports park in Arviat a reality.

Collier wasn’t able to make it to Iqaluit to receive his award.

Alana Kuksuk of Whale Cove was the winner of the Coach of the Year honour for her work in volleyball. Kuksuk took the community’s junior girls volleyball team to the Laura Gauthier Memorial Volleyball Tournament in Rankin Inlet in 2014, where they spiked that championship, and followed that up by bringing home a silver medal from the Nunavut Junior Volleyball Championships in Iqaluit in 2016, a result which was bettered one year later when they won gold at the same tournament.

Kuksuk was part of the coaching staff for the Nunavut girls entry at this past summer’s North American Indigenous Games in Toronto and will serve in the same role for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. She’s also on her way to becoming the third coach in the territory to complete Volleyball Canada’s coach development program.

“Alana’s ability to comprehend technical volleyball skills and teach it is an asset to the territory,” said Dawn Currie, executive director of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut, who spoke about Kuksuk at the event.

Canadian sprint kayaker and four-time Olympic medalist, Adam van Koeverden, addresses a full house at the 2017 Sport and Recreation Awards celebration and dinner Oct. 14 at the Frobisher Inn in Iqaluit. – photo courtesy Michel Albert

Like Collier, Kuksuk was also unable to make it into Iqaluit to receive her award, but Bev Netusil, who works with Kuksuk on the team, accepted on her behalf.

There were two Officials of the Year and it’s a pair from Rankin Inlet who took home the honour. Paul Stroeder and Chad Graham, both from Rankin Inlet, shared the award for their work in soccer. They are two of the territory’s most senior referees and have a quarter-century of combined service to the sport between them.

The Kugluktuk Youth Centre and Rankin Wolves U12 soccer team shared the Community Organization of the Year Award.

The youth centre has been open since 2014 and Currie said the impact it has had on the community is apparent to everyone.

“It’s open seven days a week and offers a range of social, recreational, inter-generational activities along with life skills and sport programs for people aged six through 30 years old,” she said. “It has become a safe place for youth and families to come together.”

When it comes to the Wolves, soccer is the lure, said Currie, but it’s far more than just soccer.

“It’s about learning valuable lessons in life and contributing positively to the community,” she said. “The program has approximately 40 to 60 kids involved annually, all 12 years of age and under.”

The Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) Award of Merit was given to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. The association has been involved with RPAN through the Get Happy Summer Day Camp Program, which was launched as a pilot project in the Baffin region in 2014. From there, it’s become a territory-wide program with 11 communities taking part with the association still involved.

The Team of the Year went to Coral Harbour U18 boys soccer team. The team took part in Super Soccer in Yellowknife taking home the bronze medal, following that up they won the Nunavut Soccer Championships over Whale Cove by a score of 3-2, described by the Nunavut Soccer Association as one of the best tournaments ever seen.

Sadie Pinksen of Iqaluit captured the Female Athlete of the Year for her exploits in curling and judo. Pinksen is considered one of the territory’s best junior curlers, having skipped the territorial junior girls team several times and got the chance to join Nunavut’s entry at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this year. At the age of 16, Pinksen was the youngest ever participant at the event.

She was also on Nunavut’s mixed team that played at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships.

Alex McDermott, also from Iqaluit, was awarded Male Athlete of the Year. McDermott has been a jack of all trades, serving as goalkeeper for the Inuksuk High School U17 boys soccer team as well as playing with the territory’s basketball team at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games and with Team North at the Canada Basketball Nationals that same year.

Preston Kapatakoak of Kugluktuk was named the Youth Leader of the Year. Kapatakoak works at the youth centre and has worked with the hamlet’s recreation department on its summer day camp program since 2016.

He was part of Nunavut’s Youth Ambassadors Program for the 2017 Canada Summer Games, where he got to be the flag bearer for Nunavut at the opening ceremony as the territory didn’t have any athletes at week one of the Games.

Several special recognition awards were handed out during the ceremony. They went to Mandy Hickey of Iqaluit (Speed Skating), Todd Janes of Rankin Inlet (Soccer), Holly Mercer and Robert Kabvitok of Rankin Inlet (Volleyball) and Karen Costello of Iqaluit (Curling).

The final award of the night was the First Air President’s Award of Excellence and that went to Thomas Levi, the long-time recreation co-ordinator in Arctic Bay.
Levi began working in community recreation in 1995, making him one of the longest-serving community recreation workers in the territory. He’s been at the forefront of many different events in the Arctic Bay and has never been shy about applying for funding for any event that the community hosts.

– with files from Michele LeTourneau

2017 award winners

  • Keith Collier, Recreation Leader of the Year
  • Alana Kuksuk, Coach of the Year
  • Paul Stroeder and Chad Graham, co-recipients – Official of the Year
  • Kugluktuk Youth Centre and SAS U12 Rankin Wolves, co-recipients, Community Organization of the Year
  • Qikiqtani Inuit Association, CPRA (Canadian Parks and Recreation Association) Merit Award
  • Coral Harbour U18 Boys Soccer – Team of the Year
  • Sadie Pinksen, Female Athlete of the Year
  • Preston Kapatakoak, Youth Leader of the Year
  • Alex McDermott, Male Athlete of the Year
  • Special Recognition Awards: Mandy Hickey (Speed Skating), Todd Janes (Soccer), Holly Mercer and Robert Kabvitok (Volleyball), Karen Costello (Curling)
  • Thomas Levi, First Air Present’s Award of Excellence Award
source: Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut

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