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Oh Canada!
Cardboard Canadian flag made by art students at Will F. Davidson Elementary, Mary Jane Shannon Elementary, and Guildford Park Secondary schools.”

Oh Canada!

Surrey students show us what they think of their home and native land

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Surrey students have a lot to say when it comes to our country. The works of hundreds of elementary and high school students exploring ideas about contemporary Canadian identity in a screen-based exhibit were displayed at the Surrey Art Gallery from March to April. This project was a collaboration with the Surrey School District that coincides with Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Canada 150 Art by Surrey Students showcased the breadth of voices and talents that comprise the next generation of youth. The works on display convey a range of attitudes and worldviews, which don’t paint any one single picture of Canadian life. Some students chose to focus on specific people, places, and stories in their lives, while others explored more abstract ideas such as the beauty of nature, technological innovation, and interpersonal conflict. Together, the art of Surrey’s school students suggests a nuanced view of Canada: one that celebrates its wonder and achievement, while also striving for ever-greater equality, environmental security, and quality of life.

Since 1983, Surrey Art Gallery annually hosts an exhibition showcasing the creativity of students participating in the Surrey School District’s art education programs and the value of art education in the BC School curriculum. These exhibitions are developed through ongoing partnerships with the Surrey School District and its art teachers.

The exhibition is on till April 16.

Desi Today is profiling artwork of few students and their take on contemporary Canada.

Joti Khangura

Grade 11, Sullivan Heights Secondary

From left: Anoop, Syra, Joti

My visual project illustrates all the challenges and successful achievements that the Sikhism community has conducted. Also it shows the ongoing emotions that were felt by Sikhs while connecting with the Canadian community.  The advanced chain of the Sikhism society in the Canadian culture has increased significantly. Firstly, the outright hostility of rejection regarding the Komagata Maru incident in 1914, and then pushed aside due to the differences in culture. However, now we are being accepted in the mainstream cultures and are integrating our own culture within the society.

I don’t just speak for myself,  I think I have a voice for the entire South Asian community. Living in Canada has given us, South Asian woman many new opportunities leading to success. It has given us a chance to grow and to truly succeed without being continuously knocked down by harsh judgements. But instead, we are receiving positive reminders and feedbacks about what we can achieve and our contributions to the Canadian society and individuals as a whole. Also, Canada has created an understanding that you can thrive and achieve any set goals because what I’ve learned is that the biggest supporter in your life is yourself. In addition, I just love how Canada is built upon this platform and understanding that having a nation occupied with distinct cultures grows the knowledge of individuals which is in direct relation with how we act and care for one another, and this exact detail is what separates us from other nations. We are the main symbolism for Canada, us, Canadians define everything about Canada.

This project has allowed me to gain more knowledge about my own culture along with the Canadian heritage. It has given me an alternate perspective on a wider scale, that it’s not just the South Asian community that is making an impact but also all the other cultures, people and memories of the past history. This has assisted Canada into becoming a safe community where everyone can feel respected. It has shown me that our ancestors had to face many hardships to give us the life that they wished for therefore, we are forever grateful. It was such an honor to present my culture through my artwork at the Surrey Art Gallery exhibition because in addition to celebrating Canada’s 150th year of independence, we are also celebrating the South Asian advancements and growth. There are many different cultures and emotions shown throughout the exhibition that constructs an atmosphere in which we can connect with the mainstream culture of the present time. And also, still relate back and share the roots of our own distinct culture. Based on Canada’s mixed cultural integrations, we are different in many concepts, however the one thing that ties us all together is that we are all equal and human.

Anoop Sanghera 

Grade 9, Sullivan Heights Secondary

Being Canadian means having health care that is available whenever you need it and not having to worry about safety. Finally being Canadian means not being treated differently from other people because of my skin colour.

In the artwork there is a Canadian man ripping tape off a woman’s mouth, giving her a chance to be heard. The artist created this piece using copic markers and water colour pencil crayons. Normally in society a man’s voice is heard loud and clear, while a woman’s voice is barely heard at all. In the artwork the man is stepping down and finally giving the woman a chance for her to be seen and her ideas to be heard. This piece shows that we can all be equal and accepting, inviting the viewer to act that way.

Syra Tak

Grade 9, Sullivan Heights Secondary

Despondent is a hand drawn art piece which depicts a portrait of a sorrowful elderly woman in the setting of a senior’s home, as she gazes at life beyond a window frame with tears trickling down her cheeks. The artwork explores neglect and state of mind of seniors, who are emitted to homes and the truth behind the quality of care they receive. As can be seen, the use of value and proportion are the most predominant elements and principals of design used in the piece. In consideration of the subject matter, the artist opted out of using colour in the creation of the piece and instead used variations of graphite pencil to represent despondency and the overall melancholy expressed in the artwork. In addition, techniques such as smudging and blending were used.

Despondent is inspired by an article the artist had read that shared information regarding the poor quality of care that seniors in homes throughout Canada are forced to tolerate. The piece of information that stimulated the process to create this piece was that some homes are feeding their seniors an unbelievable single piece of cheese, small bun, and fruit in a petri dish as a “meal”. The artist strongly believes that the quality of care given to seniors is a rising issue that must be resolved. In order to send that message, the artist tries to showcase certain emotions such as sorrow, misery, and despair in the artwork. In conclusion, it is unfortunate that those who are sought to influence future generations with wisdom and knowledge are being neglected by homes that fail to live up to a simple expectation; to provide quality care for the elderly.

Despite being such a young country, I think Canada is a great world leader. We have an abundance of natural resources and we are taking initiative of becoming more attentive and efficient with our consumption and emission. Politically and economically, we are stable and we have countless opportunities within our country. I like that we are such a diverse country and welcoming.

While creating my art piece, I knew that I wanted to do a great job with it and give my best effort because I strongly believe that the issue I portrayed is very important. My hope for this project was for my piece to put health care for seniors on the podium rather than have it swept under the carpet because it is an impediment that has met no resolve. I believe it was received really well by observers at the Surrey Art Gallery exhibition and I was thrilled to showcase my sentiment on our country and the opportunities I believe we can take as we continue to grow. I had a great time viewing other art pieces and grasping the messages they portrayed. It was interesting to see all of the different view points on opportunities and challenges that face our generation.

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