Kivalliq athletes shine

Athletes and sport leaders in the Kivalliq brought home a bounty of accolades from the 2022 Sport and Recreation Awards in Iqaluit this October.

“There’s no question this is a bigger year” for Kivalliq recipients, said Dawn Currie, executive director of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut.

The U9 Rankin Rock took home the 2022 Team of the Year award. This year, the group travelled to Manitoba and captured the gold medal and Jack Burden Cup in the Jack Burden U9 hockey tournament. They also worked hard at fundraising to make the journey possible.

Team manager Hannah Siksik said it was amazing to hear of their award.

“This group worked so hard together and for them to be recognized at such a young age is a testament to their focus and dedication,” said Siksik. “It’s really exciting watching these kids grow and develop both on and off the ice.”

Siksik’s daughter, Charlotte Siksik, earned the 2022 Female Athlete of the Year award for her dedication and work pursuing her hockey dreams, having been invited to a prospect camp at the University of Calgary this past summer.

“I am incredibly proud of Charlotte and her accomplishments on and off the ice,” said her mother. “I watch Charlotte every day push herself to achieve the goals she sets. She is very dedicated and committed to reaching those goals. For her to be recognized as Female Athlete of the Year was wonderful to see. The support she has received from all her coaches, especially David Clark, throughout the years has been extraordinary and invaluable.”

Prime Paniyuk couldn’t attend the awards in person, but the Coral Harbour rising hockey star earned the 2022 Male Athlete of the Year award.

Paniyuk has been playing hockey since age five and was part of the U18 AAA Norman NorthStars in the 2021-22 season, being named rookie of the year as a 16-year-old. He went on to represent Team North at the 2022 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.

Also in the Kivalliq, Remie Ukpatiku from Baker Lake took home the 2022 RPAN Youth Leader of the Year award.

Ukpatiku was one of seven youth leaders to participate in the Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, which provided her with the requirements to obtain a Recreation North Youth Leader certificate. She is now back with Baker Lake recreation and once again working with RPAN on the organization’s winter youth programs.

Currie suggested Clark played a large role in nominating recipients from the Kivalliq, especially Rankin Inlet. She went on to praise the Rankin Inlet recreation director for his passion and keeping sports going during the pandemic.

“One of the things I know about David is it doesn’t matter what’s going on, he’s still passionate, he’s still getting kids out there and playing hockey and doing things for them,” said Currie, adding that youth having access to hockey arenas but not school gyms during Covid-19 may have played a role in more hockey-related awards this year.

Currie said sports and recreation activities are coming back in the territory after being largely shut down during pandemic restrictions.

“I think there’s still a challenge in getting kids back to the gyms,” she said. “I don’t know if kids are playing as much as they were before Covid. I think the last two-and-a-half years forced kids to find other things to do.”

But a couple big carrots for youth to rejoin sports are the upcoming 2023 Arctic Winter Games and later on the 2023 Canada Summer Games.

Currie also wanted to recognize Makabe Nartok, the Canadian North Volunteer of the Year, who has been supporting Arctic sports since before Nunavut was its own territory. He will be participating in the 2023 games as an official.

“He’s given a lot back to the communities,” she said.

2022 Sport and Recreation Awards

Male Athlete of the Year: Prime Paniyuk from Coral Harbour

Female Athlete of the Year: Charlotte Siksik from Rankin Inlet

Coach of the Year: Tommy Grenier from Iqaluit

Administrator of the Year: Martine Dupont from Iqaluit

Team of the Year: U9 Rankin Rock

Special Recognition for outstanding contribution to sport: Wanda Joy (Iqaluit), Jimmy Qamukaq (Iglulik), Noah Tiktak (Rankin Inlet) and John Taipana (Rankin Inlet).

RPAN Youth Leader of the Year: Remie Ukpatiku from Baker Lake

Baffinland Iron Mines Recreation Leader of the Year: Ethan Kadlun from Kugluktuk and Joanne Weedmark from Kinngait

Canadian North Volunteer of the Year: Makabe Nartok from Kugaaruk

Source: Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News