Students strike silver at 2023 Skills Canada National Competition

Two students from the Horticulture – Technician program made Durham College (DC) proud at the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg last month.

Competing in the Horticulture and Landscape (Team of 2) category, Abigayle Hamilton and Emma Pace brought home silver medals.

Falling just short of the gold didn’t dampen the experience for the pair, according to Pace.

“Although it wasn’t what we were striving for, I can honestly say that this has been the most empowering, exciting and fulfilling part of my young adult life,” she said, crediting her partner as well as DC professor Shane Jones for making it possible. “With a fantastic teammate and a dedicated and passionate coach, we worked together to build something we were proud of and I will always cherish this memory.”

The journey to Winnipeg was a long and rewarding one for the team, who excelled in their studies at DC and earned gold at the 2023 Skills Ontario Competition to qualify for Nationals.

For Hamilton, teaming up with her friend was the best part of the experience.

Competing in this competition with Emma is really a gift because it has formed a bond between us that is everlasting. It’s so special to have shared this experience with her,” she said. “I am so proud of us and so honored to have been given the chance to hopefully inspire young women, and anyone else, to pursue a career in the skilled trades. I hope that seeing Emma and I compete helps them push past any fear they may have towards trying anything new in their lives.”

Serving as a role model for other students is an added benefit for the pair, and Hamilton encourages anyone with a passion for horticulture or another trade to expand their education and put their skills to the test.

“I highly recommend participating in the skills competition if you have the opportunity to. It’s really a rare experience that opens doors that you would never have imagined,” she said.

“Thank you Durham College, Skills Ontario and Skills Canada for the opportunity to represent, and for the awesome experiences.”