More than 10,000 people entered Historica Canada’s “My Canada” contest, answering the question: “What does Canada mean to you?” But it was Edmonton student Kathy Milanowski’s 30-second response that won the $10,000 prize.
“I couldn’t believe it when it first happened,” Milanowski told CTV News Channel. “I didn’t realize how large the contest was, there were lots of great entries that I did see, and I just couldn’t imagine winning all of it so that was the biggest surprise.”
As part of its Canada 150 “Signature Initiative,” Historica Canada – famously known as the producers of Canadian Heritage Minutes – launched its multilingual, nation-wide contest asking citizens to define what Canada means to them in 30 seconds or less. Articulated in a short stop-motion animation, Milanowski listed culture, diversity, doughnuts, and apologies as just a few of Canada’s prominent traits.
“I decided for the video that out of everything I could’ve brainstormed that I wanted to encompass about Canada, what’s most important about it and that the core of Canada’s identity is in fact its people,” Milanowski said.
“In my opinion, I think that’s what makes Canada so strong and so unique – we are a culture and a nation made up of different nations, we have a lot of people who have immigrated from different backgrounds [and] speak multiple languages. That’s something that’s really powerful and that I think links us together as Canadians. It’s through our diversity that we become united.”
The 20-year-old says she didn’t have the opportunity to travel and record videos of the country. Instead, she worked out of her bedroom to create her submission, drawing doodles with pencil crayons and cutting them out by hand. Paired with music and words, the video took three days to complete.
“It is a photo-by-photo process,” Milanowski said. “I drew out the images, cut them out, put them down, and set up a tripod and a camera. From there you move it a little bit, take a photo, and continue the process. At the end you stitch it all together.”
Milanowski has put her prize money to good use. In addition to upgrading her laptop to keep up with her design pursuits, she says she spent her winnings on loved ones.
“I’ve really enjoyed treating some close family and friends that mean a lot to me.”