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Inuvik’s Kyra McDonald won Team N.W.T.’s first medal of the with a silver in the girls U14 3,000 metre canoe race. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC) The first medals for Team N.W.T. at the North American Games came in silver and gold.

Inuvik’s Kyra McDonald took silver in the U14 3,000 metre solo canoe race on Tuesday, the first medal for Team N.W.T. at the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.

"It was nerve wracking and scary," McDonald said of the moments before the race. "But once I got on the water I felt better."

"I was racing a girl from B.C. We were very close right from the start to the end."

Shortly after that performance, Kyra’s brother Kaiden McDonald and Aklavik’s Davina McLeod won gold in the U19 3,000-metre tandem canoe race, an event that puts a girl and boy in one canoe. Inuvik’s Kaiden McDonald and Aklavik’s Davina McLeod won gold in the U19 3,000 metre tandem canoe race. (CBC) "It feels surreal," Kaiden said. "It’s everything we worked for and wanted."

McLeod said she and Kaiden raced their own race, and it paid off in the end.

"We did our own thing and stuck to it," she said. "Getting the first gold medal, that’s amazing."

McLeod and Kaiden kept their cool coming into the final stretch. They had rounded a turn and were in the lead when Kaiden reassured McLeod they were on their way to a gold medal.

"Keep this pace and breathe," Kaiden said.

"We’re gonna be good. We’re gonna finish strong." Paddling is in the blood

Kyra said her love of paddling is a family affair. She said almost her whole family paddles. Her father, Tim Gordon, is also the team’s assistant coach.

"It was very exciting," Gordon said after watching the race. "It was really close. It was just really good to see her compete for a medal."

Gordon said Kyra and other Inuvik racers train as part of the East Three Canoe Club. In the lead up to the games he said team members had been practising three or four times per week, and had taken "a lot of time" over their 1,000 and 3,000 metre race times.

The club participates in paddling events in the communities around Inuvik.

"Whenever there’s a race, we try to make them."

With files from Wanda McLeod and Garrett Hinchey

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