Arts student beats out 10,000 to win $10,000 in national video contest

30-second animation promotes the value of diversity in Canada.


A video made by a University of Alberta bachelor of design student was chosen the winner among 10,000 entries in a competition run by Historica Canada, the organization that produces the celebrated Heritage Minutes series.

Kathy Milanowski won $10,000 for her 30-second segment, called Our Canadian People.

“When I got the phone call, my voice just dropped out, and I didn't believe it,” said Milanowski. “I told my mom and she got really excited and started jumping around—for me, it took a while to sink in."

Using stop-frame techniques with simple cardboard cutouts, Milanowski’s video answers the question, “What does Canada mean to you?” When she first came across a poster advertising the contest, she said she knew she had an answer.

"What I liked was it was really broad. You could answer any way you wanted to. I knew I had lots to say, because I'm really proudly Canadian. The challenge was how to phrase it and present it.

"I'm really proud that as a country we're able to embrace our diversity. I think there's a lot happening in the world right now, and one of the things Canada gets right and does well is include everybody. There's just something about this collective of diverse people that seems to strong, so united."

Milanowski is a first-generation Canadian with family roots in Poland.

Though she’s thrilled with the win, she admitted the media attention has been “a little overwhelming.” So far she’s been interviewed by local and national CTV, CBC’s Canada AM, the Edmonton Journal and SIRIUS FM. She said she hasn’t yet been informed whether the segment will air on television.

Long intrigued by animation, Milanowski said this latest success has her thinking a little more about the role it could play in her future design career. But the third-year student isn’t making any commitment just yet.

"I think I'll continue to work through all the things we do in school and see what appeals to me."

As for the money? “I’ve put a good chunk of it back into my studies, upgrading my laptop to be more productive and help me continue with my design pursuits,” she said. “I've also enjoyed treating friends and family that mean a lot to me.”