Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

April 20, 2009 11:56 ET

Government of Canada Recognizes Efforts of Young Canadians for Celebrating Diversity

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - April 20, 2009) - The Government of Canada is honouring 12 young Canadians today for their creative work in celebrating Canadian nation-builders of diverse backgrounds.

The students are being recognized for their winning essays and artwork as part of the 2009 Mathieu Da Costa Challenge.

The Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Democratic Reform), on behalf of the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, today joined the Honourable John Harvard, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, and the award winners at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People to celebrate their successful entries.

"Through their artwork and their writings, these young people have demonstrated that Canada's diversity is our greatest strength," said Minister Fletcher. "The creative expression of today's winners celebrates Canada's pluralistic society."

Mathieu Da Costa is believed to be the first black person to have set foot in Canada. A navigator and interpreter of African descent, Da Costa is documented to have travelled extensively throughout the Atlantic Region in the late 1500s and early 1600s. He often acted as an interpreter between the French and the Mi'kmaq.

The winners were selected from more than 560 entries and include four students from British Columbia, three from Alberta, two from Ontario, and one each from New Brunswick, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Winners were selected in three categories (Writing - English, Writing - French and Artwork) in each of three age categories (9-12, 13-15 and 16-18).

Another entry won the Public Choice Award, selected through voting on

Three winners were also acknowledged as part of the Mathieu Da Costa Parks Canada Award. There were presentations for the best original essays in English and French, as well as best work of art exemplifying contributions by a national historic person to Canadian history.

For their efforts the young people are receiving an all-expense paid trip to Winnipeg with a parent or guardian, VIP tickets to the awards ceremony and a certificate of achievement.

The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge was introduced by the Government of Canada in 1996 as a means of encouraging young people to discover ways in which diversity has shaped Canada's history and the important role pluralism plays in Canadian society.

Partners with the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge include the Parks Canada Agency, the Historica Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Library Association, and the Inn at the Forks.

For more information on the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge, please visit

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