P.E.I. student wins Canada 150 trip with maple leaf montage

A young P.E.I. artist inspired by a chance to see more of Canada has won a trip to Winnipeg as part of a Canada 150 youth event.

"I really, really want to travel throughout Canada," said Emily Shaw, a Grade 12 student at Charlottetown Rural High School. 

"I had this epiphany that I really want to explore other countries, but I've never really seen my own."

Shaw saw the application for Experiences Canada 150&Me, a series of forums across the country but wasn't immediately sure what she wanted to do.

She was inspired by a project in art class at school where she used little pictures to make up a big picture.

"I put little pictures inside the maple leaf, little pictures of people to represent the whole picture of Canada," Shaw said.

"With that I played on the idea of the cultural mosaic that Canada is so known for."

Shaw calls the piece, The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me, inspired by The Muppets.

Each part of the maple leaf represents a part of Canada.

"I tried to do it somewhat geographically, so to the right of the maple leaf you've got characteristics of the east coast," said Shaw.

The eastern part of the painting features a highland dancer, Evangeline and Gabriel, a Viking ship and, of course, Anne of Green Gables.

"I'm pretty proud of the Highland dancer because my history is Scottish so that's important to me," she said.

"When I drew the Scottish dancer, I put her in a kilt but it's my own tartan, it's the Shaw tartan, so I was proud I was able to slide that in."

The northern part of the painting includes an image representing, an Inuit child, a boat representing the Northwest Passage and astronaut Chris Hadfield playing his guitar.

Shaw admits it was important to her not to shy away from including issues such as the residential schools, Bill C-101 and the underground railway and its connection to slavery.

No all 'lovey-dovey'

"A country's history is never 100 per cent good and I think that's something everyone needs to realize," she said.

"We always play around with the idea that Canada is this big lovey-dovey nation, but there are some not so great aspects to it and that's part of our history and we need to acknowledge that."

Shaw's  application was chosen out of more than 1,100 submissions from across the country. In May, she will travel to Winnipeg to take part in a youth forum focused on the issue of human rights.

Hopes to study Fine Arts

She will visit the Museum of Human Rights, the Louis Riel Museum, a Mennonite community and work with Habitat for Humanity.

Shaw hopes to continue in the field of art. She has been accepted into the Fine Arts program at two universities.

Above all, she's looking forward to fulfilling that dream of seeing more of Canada.

"Especially during the 150th, where I can really know what it was like during this really special year," she said.

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