Each year on Nov. 11, the City of Markham honours those who have fought for our country and our freedom. Its annual Remembrance Day Poetry Contest gives youth the opportunity to show their appreciation for Canadian soldiers and veterans.
Sept. 2 this year marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The city requires that all submissions relate to this theme.
Any student living in or attending a school in Markham from Grades 7-12 may submit a poem. There are three age categories: Grades 7-8, Grades 9-10 and Grades 11-12.
“We had two rounds of voting for the poems,” said Seethaa Manoharan, one of the Markham Mayor’s Youth Council co-chairs, “Our 25 council members first judged the initial submissions and decided on three finalists for each age category. And then these three final poems were shared online for a final round of public voting.”
Annabelle Jay from Unionville Montessori School has won this year’s Remembrance Day Poetry Contest for the Grades 7-8 category. Her poem "For All of Us" was inspired by her grandma’s life experience.
“My great-grandparents came from Poland, which was captured by Germany during the Second World War, and my grandma was born in one of their camps,” Jay said. “So many people have sacrificed their lives so we can have freedom today.”
The Markham Mayor’s Youth Council started to collect submissions from Oct. 1 and got 40 entries for the competition in total. “It was very hard to choose for the finalists,” Manoharan said. “As a Canadian, we heard a lot about Remembrance Day when we grew up; now, seeing the deep appreciation expressed in the younger generation's poems is very uplifting.”
The two other winners are Stephanie Ng and Amisha Packiareginauld; both of them are from St. Brother André Catholic High School.
The winners from each age category will be given a $50 cheque along with an award from the mayor and city councillors. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Markham Mayor’s Youth Council has decided to have a virtual ceremony on Remembrance Day. To watch the ceremony, please visit markham.ca on November 11.
Below are the poems by the Remembrance Day Poetry Contest winners:
Annabelle's "For All of Us":
Leaves dance in the sky poppies watch from the ground, some people cry, and others stand proud. As we're silent, when the trumpet plays, we think of the soldiers who fought for our free days, veterans and friends of all different kinds, we're thankful for our land, our gods, our families and soldiers who died. We're thankful for Canada, the one of our own, which each and everyone can call their home.
Stephanie's "Our Soldiers Brave":
Our soldiers brave once fought for peace And our many thanks shall not cease. On this grim day, stories are told But memories never grow old As songs of grief are a reprise. The red sea, more than a showpiece, By the hill with those now at ease. The fight from spirits of pure gold, Our soldiers brave. The eleventh hour will release A silent hum that will increase. As minutes tick by for the world, Recognition flows uncontrolled. The past is honoured piece by piece. Our soldiers brave.
Amisha's "What is your Name?":
What is your name, I ask a lifetime away You left me a gift you never had on that day With hope in your heart and fear in your eyes, You fought till the white wings spread through the skies. Courage and strength uplifted your name The nights were a blur, many going down in a flame Row by row, you went marching by Gunshots arose, yet you held your head high. The poppy, your name as a symbol The redness, the stream of your pain so humble Its flower grew from our mourning sorrow In our hearts, we wear it proudly for the morrow. Your name was the gift, the peace that you bestowed Freeing all our people, your bravery showed We celebrate your valor as we bow in silence Your life, for this we give it remembrance. Today, tomorrow, and always.
Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun