Edmonton student wins $10,000 top prize in 'My Canada' contest
'Welcome to the team of those who are not born here, but choose to live here'
Kathy Milanowski can now say she has her own heritage minute.
The organization Historica Canada, a charitable group most famous for producing Canadian Heritage Minutes, held a national contest asking "What does Canada mean to you?"
'I couldn't believe it'
There were more than 10,000 entries in the "My Canada" contest, and the Edmonton design student won.
Milanowski's 30-second, stop-motion film, Our Canadian People was awarded the top prize.
As a reward, Milanowski took home $10,000.
"I thought I had a good chance, but I definitely did not see this coming," Milanowski said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"I came home from a long day at school and I almost fell asleep on my bed, and then I got the call.
"When the lady said, 'congratulations,' my voice just dropped. I couldn't believe it."
Milanowski, 20, said she took inspiration from her immigrant roots. Her family hails from Poland, and she is a first-generation Canadian.
To her, Canada always represented hope, and a place of opportunity. People are at the core of the Canadian identity.
'We are the sum of our differences'
"We are the sum of our differences, and so we celebrate them," Milanowski said in the narration of her short film. "Welcome to the team of those who are not born here, but choose to live here."
Milanowski, who is studying visual communication at the University of Alberta, said much of the prize money will be put toward her continued education.
Winners in the national competition were selected by a jury of notable Canadians, including historian Charlotte Gray, and author and journalist Brian Maracle.
Taking home the top prize has reaffirmed Milanowski's passion for art, design and digital storytelling.
"I think it just affirms that design and communications and visual communications is something that I'm interested, and I can do.
And from there, I just want to keep exploring what works best for me and what works out for the best for the future.
"I'm excited to see what happens."