When LtCol Joshua Kutryk steps into the International Space Station or onto the moon or Mars some time in the future, a large number of Elk Point and Beauvallon area are going to say, “That’s our home town boy,” while a dozen families around the region can add, “He’s a relative of ours.”
Kutryk, who celebrated the end of his basic training recently with fellow Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons of Calgary and their NASA classmates in Houston, Texas, formerly called both Elk Point and Beauvallon home.
Just before leaving for the basic training course in the summer of 2017, he attended a meet-and-greet in Elk Point that reunited him with his Grade 3 teacher Lee Wruth, former classmates and their families and neighbors from 1991 and 1992, when his father, RCMP Sgt. Barry Kutryk, was posted in Elk Point. Representatives of 11 of 12 families in the area who are proud to call him a relative joined him on stage that evening for a keepsake photo, and many reminiscence were shared, with The Review’s sports reporter Doug Bassett recalling that he taught him to play ball that summer of 1992.
From Elk Point, the senior Kutryk was transferred to Whitehorse, his final posting before he retired and moved back to his family’s homestead at Beauvallon. After graduating from high school in 2000, Kutryk joined the military, patrolling Canada’s north from the air and later becoming a fighter pilot in Afghanistan and Libya before going back to school and earing four university degrees, eventually becoming an experimental pilot, flying F-18s.
He tried out for the astronaut recruiting program in 2008 and made it to the final four before being cut, and “When this recruitment came out, I knew I had to give it my best shot,” he said during his 2017 visit. “This is the icing on the cake, serving Canada.”
Kutryk and Sidey-Gibbons are officially becoming astronauts soon after Canada became partners with NASA in the Lunar Gateway Project, part of the Artemis program that will see the first woman and the next man set foot on the moon. They are also ready to represent Canada on missions to the International Space Station and even to Mars. When that day arrives, many from our area will be extremely proud to be able to say, “We knew him when…”