Kivalliq firefighters show their skills

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One female firefighter from Rankin Inlet has a message for women and girls in similar fields: anything is possible if you train hard and try your best.

Firefighters from across the territory tried out for the territorial team to compete at the National Firefighter Competition.
photo courtesy of Catherine Tatty-Kabvitok

Catherine Tatty-Kabvitok has been with the Rankin Inlet Fire Department for six months. Recently, she put her skills to the test in Iqaluit against firefighters from across the territory.

Tryouts for the territorial firefighting team, which goes to the National Firefighters Competition each year, took place in Iqaluit from Aug. 1 to 6. Tatty-Kabvitok joined firefighters from Naujaat for the tryouts and was the only woman to throw her hat into the ring.

Although she wasn’t selected for the territorial team in the end, Tatty-Kabvitok said the experience was one she won’t soon forget.

“It was a really good learning experience for me,” she said.

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking, being the only woman to try out for the team, but for someone of my height, I did pretty well.”

Still a relatively new firefighter, Tatty-Kabvitok said she decided she wanted to try out for the team in order to set an example for women and girls across the territory.

It was also a way to prove the capabilities of her gender and led to one of the main highlights of the tryouts for her: being able to start conversations with firefighters from other all-male departments, who could see the merit in having women on board.

“I wanted to show the guys that girls can do anything – even if you’re small,” she said.

“One of the main reasons I went was also to encourage more women to join their fire departments.”

Three members of Naujaat’s fire department also represented the Kivalliq region at the tryouts. Two were successfully selected to compete nationally.

Sandy Natseck, Mark Tegumiar and Michael Siusangnark all tried out for the team, with Natseck and Tegumiar making the cut.

Neither could be reached for an interview by press time, but Naujaat senior administrative officer Rob Hedley said the trio did their community proud.

“They all did really, really well,” Hedley said.

“This absolutely says something about the level of training they receive and it also really says something about their level of commitment, too.”

Naujaat’s fire department has 14 members, all of whom participate on a volunteer basis.

“The training they’re getting is very good, but also too what they put into it. They put a lot of effort and time into it,” Hedley said.

“These guys are very dedicated and we’re very proud of them.”

The National Firefighter Competition ran from Aug. 9 to 13 at Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick with results scheduled to come in after press time.

The territorial team included Natseck, Tigumiar, Steven Iqalukjuak and Andrew Jr. Iqalukjuak of Clyde River, team coach Atsaina Eeyeevadlok of Kimmirut, team captain Justin Morgan of Hall Beach and Glen Sutherland of Kugaaruk.