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'It feels like home': Student filmmakers explore what Canada means to them

Sharing Our Cultures contest part of Canada 150 celebrations

Holy Heart Bella Cantante

Holy Heart Bella Cantante performs at the Youth Video Festival Celebration on Tuesday evening at Memorial University's Bruneau Centre. (Daniel MacEachern/CBC)

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Budding student filmmakers this spring picked up cameras and cellphones with one simple theme in mind: What does Canada mean to me?

The results were showcased Tuesday night at Memorial University's Bruneau Centre for the Youth Video Festival Celebration, held by the non-profit organization as part of Canada 150 celebrations.

Lloydetta Quaicoe

Lloydetta Quaicoe of Sharing Our Cultures says the organization wanted a Canada 150 project that would leave a legacy. (Daniel MacEachern/CBC)

Lloydetta Quaicoe, of Sharing Our Cultures, said the organization wanted a Canada 150 project that would leave a legacy.

"They were far beyond what we had expected," she said.

'I think their voices are going to go far and wide, even beyond the space we're in right now.' - Lloydetta Quaicoe

"I really didn't know what the students would say, and it seemed like each group did something different but something that was unique to them. I was just so amazed at their inspiration, at their ingenuity, at their creativity."

The dozen entries ranged from a sendup of Canadian stereotypes to a reworking of the lyrics of the Paul Brandt song Alberta Bound — to Canada Bound — to personal stories of change and discovery.

Ub Oyet

Ub Oyet won first prize for his video, which explores the meaning of Canada itself and how it's home for him. (Daniel MacEachern/CBC)

The entry from Ub Oyet of St. Bonaventure's College — where he connects the meaning of Canada's name itself to his own experiences growing up in Newfoundland — was named the best of the bunch, with a $750 cash prize, by a panel of judges.

"Recently, because of oil and other things, people have been coming to Newfoundland and Canada. They're talking about how it's welcoming, and a sense of community," he said.

"I just wanted to talk about how it's a home."

'It's a very nice place'

Second place went to Samuel Mok, who reflected on the changes he's gone through by leaving Hong Kong in 2015 to come here and attend Waterford Valley High School.

Samuel Mok

Samuel Mok's second-place video reflects on his journey from Hong Kong to Canada. (Daniel MacEachern/CBC)

"It's meaningful to me. Canada is a safe place where I can communicate with strangers," he said.

"It's a very nice place to me … in Hong Kong, I'm a student that just focused on my studies and I don't really have time to play or communicate with my friends, but in Canada I can make some new friends, so it's very excellent."

Four students from the Boys & Girls Club of St. John's — Marwa Aska, Kadri Berisa, Manoj Neupaney and Sumitra Subedi — won third place for a video that asked a diverse group of students what Canada means to them.

Sumitra Subedi

Sumitra Subedi's group from the Boys & Girls Club of St. John's won third prize. (Daniel MacEachern/CBC)

"Canada is, to us, a place where we feel safe, and it feels like home," said Subedi. "So that's what we want to showcase to our citizens here."

Quaicoe said she's pleased that the videos are online so the broader community can see therm.

"Thousands of people will be able to see their videos and hear their message," she said. "I think their voices are going to go far and wide, even beyond the space we're in right now."

The students' videos can be seen at Sharing Our Culture's website.

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