A university student's design has been chosen as the official logo for Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation, but some say this contest and others like it exploit young designers.

The winning logo was created by University of Waterloo student Ariana Cuvin.

The design by Cuvin, a second-year global business and digital arts student, was chosen from more than 300 eligible entries submitted for the Canada 150 Logo Design Content.

The new logo features a series of diamonds shapes arranged to form a maple leaf, meant to represent the provinces that formed Confederation in 1867.

Ariana Cuvin

University of Waterloo student Ariana Cuvin created the winning design. (Canada150.gc.ca)

"The repeated shape is meant to create a sense of unity and the 13 shapes forming the leaf represents our togetherness as a country. In the coloured iterations, the centre four diamonds are similar in colour," said Cuvin, who immigrated to Canada with her family from Hong Kong in 2002. 

"From left to right, similar colours are used in a row to show the provinces and territories that joined Canada in the same year. The multicoloured iteration gives a feeling of diversity, while the red one shows pride and unity."

Logo design contest criticized

Cuvin will receive $5,000 for her work, but the process has drawn criticism from Graphic Designers of Canada, the national certification body for graphic and communication designers.

President Adrian Jean said the design contest is unethical and exploits young students.

"The GDC continues to feel disgust that the government not only did not fairly compensate those who provided graphic options but also that the so-called winner has just given up their rights of ownership of this mark," said Jean in an open letter posted on the group's website.

The new logo will be featured in all products and events related to the 150th anniversary in 2017.