For the many, many thousands of Canadian students who plan, create and submit their works of remembrance to The Royal Canadian Legion’s literary and poster contests, winning a national prize can seem so, so far away.
Before the national prize is ever awarded, there is the branch competition to win, oftentimes the zone, then the district and then the provincial command. But yet, in some cases, such as Natalie Lloyd of Waterloo, Ont., or in the case of April McInnes of Glenburnie, Ont., victory against these long odds comes not just once, but twice.
These two young women join a whole host of other very deserving winners in this year’s contest, which is an annual event run by the Legion as a way to help foster and promote remembrance among Canadian youth.
The contest is broken down two ways, into age categories and by discipline. The poster contests have four age categories (primary—kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3; junior—Grades 4, 5 and 6; intermediate—Grades 7, 8 and 9; and senior—Grades 10, 11 and 12) and the literary contests have three, junior, intermediate and senior.
The two divisions of the poster contest are colour and black-and-white. The national winners of the poster contests have their artwork displayed prominently at the Canadian War Museum from June to May of the following year. The posters garnering second place and honourable mentions are displayed in the foyer of the Parliament Buildings during the annual remembrance period in November.
The literary contest also has two divisions—essays and poems. The senior first place entries in each division are also displayed at the Canadian War Museum from June to May of the following year.
For the high-achieving Natalie Lloyd of Waterloo, the senior category first-place award she received for her stirring black-and-white poster of a Legionnaire recalling wartime memories marks her second national-level senior award. In an amazing twist, Lloyd also won in the senior division two years ago, as a Grade 10 student, for another poster she created.
Then, as now, Lloyd’s inspiration was her grandfather, a Second World War veteran living in the Ottawa area. While the Grade 12 student’s poster wasn’t an exact portrait of her grandfather, she says, “it looks very similar to him.”
The poster’s theme is best summarized, says Lloyd, by the inscription it bears: “A Legacy of Freedom…Pass it on!”
“The veteran has been in the war and he’s sitting peacefully, remembering what happened and he’s writing it down to pass it on to the next generation. During the wars they basically created a legacy of freedom for us, and it’s our job to preserve that and continue it on. Now we’re over in [Afghanistan] and fighting for freedom there, so we are in the process of passing that on.”
Lloyd, who plans to do a year-long internship in a program at her local church before possibly going on to university, says she planned out the poster to include as much of the wartime experience as she could fit on the page.
“It’s a collage of sorts,” said Lloyd. “I was trying to represent the different sections of the military. They were fighting by seas and by land and in the air so they’re all in there.”
April McInnes, meanwhile, didn’t wait a couple of years to claim her second prize. The young student of Elginburg and District Public School won top prize this year in both the primary black-and-white and colour poster contests.McInnes’ submissions, which came through Bob Richardson Branch in Sydenham, show a startlingly well-developed artistic sensibility for someone so young.
“At the primary level what kids normally do is try to copy things down realistically, but for (McInnes) to lay down chunks of colour like that is sophisticated beyond her years,” said Legion Magazine General Manager Jennifer Morse, one of the judges at national level.
While initial judging takes place at the community level by volunteers at local Legion branches, all the province-winning submissions are judged at the national level by a range of professionals in the field. The poster contest, for example, was judged by Morse, Canadian War Museum art curator Laura Brandon and historian and former war museum art curator Hugh A. Halliday.
Beyond the double victories of Lloyd and McInnes, there were many other highlights among this year’s submissions. Sam Loewen’s first-place colour poster in the senior division is notable not only for its technical merit and colouring, but because it led the way this year in focusing on the continuing conflict in Afghanistan for its theme and content.
Another submission doubtlessly impacted by the Afghan mission was the junior second-place essay by Kailey Kralkay titled, A Soldier, which movingly discussed the meaning of that often used word. “I think all soldiers are heroes. I think they all deserve a medal no matter what they did in the war, because it would not be easy to leave loved ones behind and willingly take up someone else’s fight. I am glad they had the courage and strength to defend our country.”
For a more timeless approach to remembrance consider Breanna van Beek’s first-place poem in the junior category, Eyes Wide Open, which begins with the startling lines “I’m digging in the sand happy at play/You’re digging a grave for your best friend today.”
As in years past, the four senior winners of the poster and literary contest will be making the trip to Ottawa in November to participate in the national Remembrance Day ceremony where they will place a wreath of behalf of Canadian youth. In addition, they will get the chance to meet Governor General Michaëlle Jean and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among others.
For Lloyd, the winner of the black-and-white senior poster contest, the trip to Ottawa to represent Canada’s youth will be her second, but that doesn’t make it any less special.
“I get to see my grandfather there and everything,” she said, “but I’m really looking forward to meeting the other winners of the contest and the cadets that will be there. And I’m looking forward to meeting the Governor General and the Prime Minister.”
2009 Poster Contest
2009 Essay Contest Why Remember?
by Stephanie Adams
“The evils of war are great in their endurance, and have a long reckoning for ages to come.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Remembering the horrors and sacrifices of war is a crucial aspect of ensuring that humanity sees positive progress. Regardless of the type of conflict, there are countries and individuals fighting for something they strongly believe in or hope to preserve. As a result of their actions, we can only hope that lessons are learned and a better future is in store. In order to be part of a solution, one must be able to understand the events of the past. Life amongst the peoples of the world will continue to present challenges. Without an understanding of our pasts, and the efforts and sacrifices made in war, we cannot move forward in life. In other words, when lessons from the past are truly deconstructed, our society can create concrete goals for building a stronger future. War is a tragedy. The best we can hope for is to make certain that history doesn’t repeat itself.
Studying and remembering wars allow us to become more aware of what people have endured during both past and present conflicts. Wars do not only affect adults; but children as well. In reality, the inability of innocent children to influence the violence leaves them completely vulnerable and most seriously impacted. They are faced with terrifying violence, physical and emotional suffering, food rationing, unfamiliar places such as bomb shelters, and an overall lack of security. War is something no child should have to experience. The stresses of long and drawn out wars such as World War I and World War II not only affected those fighting, but those left at home. They were faced with the fear of receiving telegraphs saying their loved ones had been injured or killed. They also found themselves in unfamiliar circumstances as the war changed their lives at home. Factories now produced the materials and ammunition required overseas, which meant they were unable to produce food, cars, and everyday goods. Daily routines such as going to work, buying groceries, or even a visit to the doctor became increasingly more difficult. Things that were once taken for granted were no longer available.
Unfortunately, the impacts of war do not end when the guns go quiet. The post-traumatic effects can remain throughout the rest of their lives, and impacts those around them. Soldiers and victims can often find themselves unable to return to a normal life and resort to substance abuse and other negative ways of trying to escape their memories. Fortunately, as a result of people having studied the effects of war, there is a better understanding of how to help those involved with war to cope with their memories. Treatment and counselling can help victims feel less isolated.
Violence is deeply embedded in our society, and has become far too glorified by sources such as movies, books, and mainstream popular media. Hollywood stories do not help society to understand either the factors leading to war or the horrific consequences. If we study and understand the accurate facts and events of war, we can gain an appreciation for why it is so important to do everything we can to settle our conflicts peacefully. In my opinion, today’s North American generation in particular, only sees war through the slanted perspectives of the media. For far too many other children around the world, war is something they live and breathe every day, and know no other way of life. It is important to educate each generation about war, so they can comprehend how lucky they truly are, and be proud of what has been accomplished and continues to be accomplished, by countries such as Canada.
Many Canadians take far too much for granted. We have freedom, peace, human rights, and individual choice. It is important to remember that these aspects of our lives were gained through the sacrifices and brave acts of soldiers in past wars. In remembering their perseverance we recognize the true value of the freedom that millions of men and woman have fought to preserve. For many people around the world, a country like Canada is nothing but a dream that will never come true. As a result of the efforts and sacrifices over generations, we enjoy peace and freedom in our country. Those who made and continue to make the sacrifices that they do in war, do so for their families, friends, traditions, and what they believe in. Canadian soldiers take pride in their efforts to bring freedom and democracy to others around the world.
If we do not remember past and present efforts, our soldiers’ sacrifices become meaningless. The hope for a brighter future around the world starts with remembering past wars and learning from humanity’s mistakes.
2009 Poetry ContestLiving In His Shadow
I would not know you by
Your sober bloodstained face
I could not know your smile,
Your scent, your clothes, your place.
I know not the name
Of your grieved, forsaken wife
Yet I’ve lived in your shadow,
My entire life.
Each step I take, each uttered word,
I feel your presence there,
When I pray and mourn lives lost,
I sense you in the air.
I’m living in your shadow,
Free from any threat or thrall,
I’m thankful you have cast one,
So that I can live at all.
If not for you the blackest nights
Would stifle any rest,
There would be no beating of heart,
No moving of my chest.
Your life, your soul was thine to give
And freely that you gave.
Head held high you faced despair
Wave upon mighty wave.
You had courage, you had fire
But by God’s mighty hand,
You were taken from your loved ones,
And from mortal land.
My love runs deep for you
And I never shall forget,
You are my soldier angel
And I am in your debt.
Hailey Cervo, Nobleford, Alta.
2009 National Winners Senior
Colour Poster—First: Sam Loewen, Lethbridge, Alta.; Second: Byeong Sung Lee, Langley, B.C.; Honourable Mention: Carrie Ann Sweetapple, Glovertown, Nfld.
Black and White Poster—First: Natalie Lloyd, Waterloo, Ont.; Second: Amanda Clark, Wolseley, Sask.; Honourable Mention: Lacey Beebe, Kingston, N.B.
Essay—First: Stephanie Adams, Newport, N.S.; Second: Jared Arsenault, Richmond, P.E.I.; Honourable Mention: Drew Haight, Cartwight, Man.
Poem—First: Hailey Cervo, Nobleford, Alta.; Second: Alyssa Trombley, Midale, Sask.; Honourable Mention: Heather Eason, Wawa, Ont.
Colour Poster—First: Yeseul Oh, Stratford, P.E.I.; Second: Rosa Kwon, Kingston, Ont.; Honourable Mention: McKenna Vickers, St. Albert, Alta.
Black and White Poster—First: Sarah Nicholson, Mount Forest, Ont.; Second: Erin Jung, Winnipeg;
Honourable Mention: Stephanie Ellis, Unity, Sask.
Essay—First: Kathy Liu, Ottawa; Second: Caroline McGuigan, Charlottetown; Honourable Mention: Alissa Going, Vauxhall, Alta.
Poem—First: Emily Cann, Charlottetown; Second: Tiffany Richards, Northern Bay, Nfld.; Honourable Mention: Kylie McCullough, Lindsay, Ont.
Colour Poster—First: Kyler Gray, Duncan, B.C.; Second: Abigail Schonewille, Athens, Ont.; Honourable Mention: Tristian Gordon, West Northfield, N.S.
Black and White Poster—First: Jeremy Hon, Richmond Hill, Ont.; Second: Jason Theriault, Bathurst, N.B.; Honourable Mention: Eldon Slingerland, Coaldale, Alta.
Essay—First: Nicole Belliveau, Sussex, N.B.; Second: Kailey Kralkay, Quill Lake, Sask.; Honourable Mention: Selma Kusturica, Kelowna, B.C.
Poem—First: Breanna van Beek, Stony Plain, Alta.; Second: Amber Payne, Woody Point, Nfld.; Honourable Mention: Maya Tittle, Wolseley, Sask.
Colour Poster—First: April McInnes, Glenburnie, Ont.; Second: Caius Quist, Marwayne, Alta.; Honourable Mention: Noah Harris, Bonavista, Nfld.
Black and White Poster—First: April McInnes, Glenburnie, Ont.; Second: Lucas Scott, Burnt Point, Nfld.; Honourable Mention: Megan Deal, Brownlee, Sask.