Canadian Heritage

Canadian Heritage

April 20, 2008 09:00 ET

Canada's Young People Celebrate Diversity Through Mathieu Da Costa Challenge

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - April 20, 2008) - Young people from across Canada have taken up the challenge to put their creative talents to work to demonstrate the contributions that Canadians of different backgrounds have made to the building of Canada.

They participated in the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge, demonstrating the importance of pluralism to Canadian identity by creating a short story, poem, song, play, illustrated story, essay, or piece of artwork. Tomorrow afternoon, their efforts will be recognized and honoured at the Mathieu Da Costa Awards Ceremony at the Salle Dina-Belanger. Luc Harvey, Member of Parliament (Louis-Hebert), on behalf of Secretary of State Jason Kenney (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), will speak at the awards ceremony.

"The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge helps young people deepen their knowledge and understanding of Canada's rich cultural history," said Mr. Harvey. "This year has special significance, as the country celebrates the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. This also marks 400 years of history as a meeting place for people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds."

Mathieu Da Costa, a navigator and interpreter of African descent, is documented to have travelled extensively throughout the Atlantic in the late 1500s and early 1600s, acting as an interpreter between the French explorers and the Mi'kmaq people. Da Costa is believed to have worked on the ship that brought Samuel de Champlain to New France and on the expedition that spearheaded French settlement in Eastern Canada more than 400 years ago. Da Costa likely spoke French, Dutch, Portuguese, and pidgin Basque, a common trade language used with Aboriginal peoples in the era of early contact.

For the first time, the Department of Canadian Heritage has partnered with Parks Canada to create the Mathieu Da Costa Parks Canada Prize. Awards are being given for an original piece of writing in English or French celebrating the contribution made by a national historic person of Aboriginal, African, or other background to the building of Canada. National historic persons are those who made an outstanding and lasting contribution to Canadian history, as designated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge is an annual creative writing and artwork contest launched in 1996 by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Challenge is open to young people aged 9 to 18 and encourages them to discover the ways in which diversity has shaped Canada's history and the important role that pluralism plays in Canadian society.

The Department of Canadian Heritage wishes to thank this year's partners: the Canadian Library Association, the Historica Foundation of Canada, Parks Canada Agency, the Hilton Quebec, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Bibliotheques publiques du Quebec, Reseau Biblio du Quebec, Canadian Association of Principals, the Northwest Territories Teachers' Association, and AMEQ en ligne.

To learn more about the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge, visit

For a list of this year's winners, please visit

This news release is available on the Internet at under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, MP
    Secretary of State
    (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)
    Alykhan Velshi
    Director of Communications