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Ottawa-area students reflect on immigration and freedom to win national contest

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OTTAWA, ON, June 6, 2013 –Two students from the Ottawa area have won the Passages to Canada Write and Make Art! Challenge, a new national competition from The  Historica-Dominion Institute that asks students to explore themes of immigration and diversity in Canada.

The winning art piece by Grade 11 student, Belinda Gong from Cairine Wilson Secondary School in Ottawa, expresses the obstacles faced by newcomers to Canada. Gong writes in her artist statement, “From the personal experiences of my parents, I know that immigrants in Canada face many difficulties…immigrants may become victims of racism, discrimination, and poverty. In my piece, an immigrant is taking a stand against these obstacles.  The maple leaf is plastered on the immigrant’s face to protect her from all the negativity.”

Belinda Gong_Ottawa

A French-language essay on Canadian freedom by Grade 8 student Ellen Li from Katimavik Elementary in Kanata won in the writing category.

Gong and Li are the only winners from the Ottawa area among the six national winners.

“The compelling pieces that we received in the Challenge’s first year show just how much youth in Canada have to say about immigration and multiculturalism in their communities,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President of The Historica-Dominion Institute. “We are thrilled to share the work of this new generation of artists and storytellers.”

In its first year, the Passages to Canada Write and Make Art! Challenge encouraged Grade 1 to 12 students across Canada to explore issues of immigration, identity and racism through writing and art. Close to 200 submissions were received this year. Work was juried by an esteemed panel from The Historica-Dominion Institute and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The Passages to Canada Speakers Bureau offers volunteers from a diverse range of ethno-cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds the opportunity to share stories of their heritage and identity with schools and community groups. Since 2002, over 700 speakers have created dialogue on Canada’s diversity with over 250,000 youth and adults. Passages to Canada is generously supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and TD Bank Group.

The Historica-Dominion Institute is the largest charitable organization dedicated to Canadian history, identity and citizenship. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.


For more information:

Davida Aronovitch, Communications Manager
t. 416.506.1553 / cell: 416.460.3284