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'He is a leader': Teenage Cree cuber hopes to regain national title

Walter Duff is hoping to regain his national record at the Canadian championships this weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont. He previously held the record in the Skewb event — a six-sided, 3D combination puzzle in the style of a Rubik's cube.

Walter Duff, 14, just competed in Melbourne, Australia, and is happy with his performance

Warren and his son Walter Duff at their home in Chisasibi, Que. Walter says he is eager to regain his national record in the Skewb event. (Jamie Pashagumskum/CBC)

A top Indigenous cuber is hoping to regain his national record at the Canadian championships this weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Since July 2018, Walter Duff held the Canadian record in the Skewb event — a Skewb is a six-sided, 3D combination puzzle in the style of a Rubik's cube — for solving it in 1.83 seconds.

Duff's record was beat last month at an event in Newmarket, Ont. — with his competitor reaching a time of 1.40 seconds — but Duff is eager to regain his status as record holder. 

The 14-year-old teenager, who is from the northern Cree community of Chisasibi, Que., is coming off a good appearance at the World Cube Association's World Championship in Melbourne, Australia, last week.

"It's cool to represent your country," Duff said.

Duff was the flag bearer for the Canadian competitors and says it was a special honour to represent Canada. It will be an experience he will always remember.

Duff practises Rubik's cubes to train for national and international events. He says physical training is also a major key to his success. (Jamie Pashagumskum/CBC)

Duff has been cubing competitively for about two years. Although he failed to make it to the final round in Melbourne, he was able to clock some new personal bests.

"My dad told me to turn fast and I did very well. On the second day I took the same advice," he said.

I like to see our youth trying new things and when they excel that's something we can all be proud of.- Chief Davey Bobbish

Warren Duff, Walter's father, says training is a big part of their routine, not only with Rubik's cubes but also physical training to build muscle memory.

"Ever since he started training physically, he started improving and we started to get [to] those podiums really fast. Then he got the national record," Warren said.

Walter made it to the second round in several events in Melbourne and says he is happy with his performance.

'Inspiration' to Cree youth

Davey Bobbish, chief of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, says Duff is a role model and an inspiration to all Indigenous youth in Canada.

"It's not hockey, it's not baseball, it's something new. I like to see our youth trying new things and when they excel that's something we can all be proud of," Bobbish said.

He said he is proud of Walter and what he has accomplished and says the community of Chisasibi will continue to support him. They hope the best for him at the Canadian nationals that start July 26 in Niagara Falls.

"He continues to be an inspiration to our youth. We need leaders like that, and he is a leader," Bobbish said.

Duff gladly takes on the responsibility. 

He says his goal in cubing is to hold a world record, and to inspire youth to find something they love and be the best they can be.

"I try to be a good role model to people. My dad is a good role model to me and I learned everything from him."

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