Six CNA students walk home with awards

Students show off their skills in national skills competition

8/10/2021 10:43:42 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Having the opportunity to showcase your talent on a national stage is a dream come true for most.

For six students from College of the North Atlantic (CNA), the opportunity also meant earning awards during the Skills Canada National Competition.

CNA award winners included:
  • Brendan Smith, Ridge Road campus, Gold, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
  • Keely Whelan, Prince Philip Drive (PPD) campus, Gold, 3D Digital Game Art
  • Greg Abbott, Bonavista campus, Silver, Plumber
  • Stacey Frost, Ridge Road campus, Silver, Architectural Technology and Design
  • Emily Reynolds, Ridge Road campus, Bronze, Electronics
  • John Bugden, PPD campus, Bronze, IT Network Systems Administration
Ashleigh Pardy, Communications and Partnerships Coordinator with Skills Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), says the event is a great way for students to sharpen their skills.

“Competitions are a great tool to demonstrate the complexity involved in skilled careers,” she said. “The entire experience, from training to the competition, allows our competitors to explore future career pathways in a setting that fosters learning and honing their talent, all while networking with mentors and professionals, and other competitors like themselves.”

Skills Canada-NL is a non-profit organization that encourages youth to explore the opportunities in skilled trades and technology careers.

Pardy says they aim to motivate students and encourage them to pursue careers in the trades field.

“We hope that all competitors would feel inspired by the high calibre of talent that they see at competitions, whether it be the intermediate challenge, provincials, or even nationals,” she said. “We would like them to see the value in skilled trades and technology careers and view them as viable career options.”

Pardy says she would encourage all students with interest in developing these skills to participate.

“The advice I would give to someone considering competing is just to go for it and get involved. Reach out to your school about the area you are interested in, competitions are a great way to hone your craft, learn new skills, meet new people, and have a great time while representing your school or province.”

Brent Howell, Dean of CNA’s School of Natural Resources and Industrial Trades, says the college has had a fantastic partnership with Skills Canada-NL over the years, and has welcomed every opportunity to showcase students on the provincial and national levels.

“Even during a pandemic, we came up with creative means for students to still be able to participate and demonstrate their talents and skills,” he said. “We are especially proud of our students who placed in the top three, but also of everyone who chose to take part in this level of competition. It gives them the confidence they need to show others how much work they put into their particular fields, while at the same time, learn from their peers to improve and become better at their craft. Well done and thank you to Skills Canada-NL and the national office for providing this venue.”

Rewarding experience
Whelan says she enjoyed participating in the competition and was excited to hear she won Gold in 3D Digital Game Art.

“Skills Canada gave me an amazing opportunity to demonstrate my learning and the new skills and abilities that I acquired and developed during my college experience at CNA, as well as a chance to test my own skills and see what I could accomplish in the competition setting,” she said. “Placing at the national level shows how much I've learned during my program and helped prepare me as I graduate and begin my career.” 

She says even though the awards were changed to a virtual line format due to the pandemic, she still experienced the exhilaration and closeness with her team.

“Watching the award show virtually with Team NL and my friends and family was so fun, and even though we were apart, I could still feel the team's comradery and excitement,” she said.

Bugden, who won Bronze for IT Network Systems Administration, says he felt grateful when he heard the news.

“When I won my award, I felt really proud of myself,” he said. “I've put a lot of work into getting where I am, it feels amazing seeing all that hard work pay off and being awarded for my work.”

He adds that he could not have done it without the help of his instructors.

“I'm very appreciative of all my instructors who believed in me and helped where they could even beyond the classroom over the last few years.

To learn more about Skills Canada-NL, visit:

For information about CNA programs and services, visit:

Media contact:
Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic