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Skills Canada GIS 2018 competition wrap up

Every spring, secondary students in Manitoba and Ontario participate in a GIS skills competition. Find out what the challenge was in each province, which school boards participated and how you can get your students involved next year.

Skills Canada is a national non-profit organization that promotes careers in technology and skilled trades. Every year, Esri Canada’s Education and Research group supports the GIS competitions that are held in Ontario and Manitoba. Each competition is open to secondary school students who are interested in solving a real-world question using ArcGIS technology.

In Ontario, teams of two that compete can choose to use ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Online to answer the question. This year, three out of four teams used ArcGIS Online to analyze the services and amenities available to seniors living in Brampton who do not drive. In the past, only ArcGIS Desktop was used by the participating teams.

Students exploring Brampton data at the Skills Ontario GIS competition this year.

All the students involved in this year’s competition worked hard and did a great job! They came from the Peel School Board, Toronto District School Board, District of Niagara School Board and Thames Valley District School Board. Congrats to Aidan Hawkins and Brady Young from Port Colborne High School who took first place in the competition. This was Aidan’s second gold! We are sure we will see this grade 10 student again at next year’s competition.

Winning poster made by the District of Niagara School Board team.

Not only is this experience a great opportunity for students to challenge themselves, but they also get to meet judges who are GIS Ambassadors and professionals working in Ontario. Students get to see how GIS can be used in different industries across the province.

Thank you to the judges who volunteered their time to support this competition and for giving the students valuable feedback on their presentations and maps. They included:

  • Adam Commeford, GIS Specialist, City of Brampton
  • Catherine Ennis, Acting Chair Information Officer, Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Debbie Verduga, Crime Analyst in the Business Intelligence and Analytics Unit, Toronto Police Service
  • Nicholas Pulsone, Research Analyst, Ryerson University

Skills Ontario GIS competition judges from left to right: Nicholas Pulsone, Adam Commeford, Catherine Ennis and Debbie Verduga.

Thank you to the City of Brampton staff: Matthew Pietryszyn, Melissa Allin, Erin Dmitrovic, Travis Dorn, Aaron DeBoer and Adam Commeford for your support with the Skills Ontario GIS question and data.

In Manitoba, students compete individually. In this year’s competition, students used ArcGIS Desktop to conduct analysis on birds that were banded in the Delta Marsh Conservation Area and then recovered in Louisiana. Students were also tasked to create maps that will be used to get donations for a non-profit bird foundation and sanctuary in Louisiana.

A great job was done by all the students who participated. Congrats to the gold place winner Cameron Lohr from Neelin High School in Brandon.

If you are interested in getting your students involved next year, check out the previous competition questions and the Skills GIS Competition preparation document to prepare your students for the 2019 competitions. If you have any questions, feel free to contact

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander