by Robyn Roste/Special to Aldergrove Star
Eight-year-old Leah Van Grootheest recently received an award for a national youth Remembrance contest through the Royal Canadian Legion.
Her hand-drawn poster honouring Canada’s veterans was judged second in Canada in the 2021-2022 collection from Remembrance contributions in November 2021.
“There were a lot of people I was against and I felt nervous, but I knew my picture was kind of good and I was kind of hoping that I would get it,” Leah said.
In September, the annual call for submissions was sent to schools with the goal of fostering remembrance.
The contest is divided into four grade categories – senior, intermediate, junior, and primary – and further divided between colour and black and white entries.
This year, the Aldergrove branch received about 150 entries in all categories.
For her poster to be judged at the national level, Leah first had to win at the branch level, then her winning entry was forwarded to provincial command before being sent on to Ottawa for the national final decision.
“We found out about winning in the local and provincial levels from the school, and then got a letter in the mail for the national level. We didn’t realize it went that far!” said Kassandra Van Grootheest, Leah’s mother.
At the time, Leah was in Grade 3 at Credo Christian Elementary in Langley, and participated in the primary category.
She began her poster at school and then brought it home to continue working on it.
Her black-and-white pencil drawing depicts two crosses with a poppy in between, with two doves holding a twig in their beaks, one flying in front of each cross.
An inscription at the bottom of the page reads, “Remember the soldiers that fought for peace.”
“The doves mean peace, the crosses are for the people who died and passed away, and the poppy is because poppies are a symbol for remembrance of them,” Leah explained.
“Remembrance Day is important to me because a lot of soldiers died and their families are sad. I want to honour that they tried to help.”
The youth Remembrance contest allows Canadian school children to perpetuate remembrance and honour Canada’s veterans through art and writing.
“Looking at the doves and the branch, and the power of her message, that kid is talented…hard to believe an eight year old did that,” said Doug Hadley, past president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Aldergrove branch.
Leah loves drawing, especially people, and prefers sketching over colouring.
She plans on drawing throughout the summer and working on her skills.
The presentation for the 2021-2022 youth Remembrance contest took place at the Aldergrove legion.
The 2022-2023 contest will be announced to schools in September.
People can visit legion.ca for more information.
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