Sonja Csik with her mom Timea and her award-winning poster. Photo by Mickey Conlon

Student’s Remembrance Day poster given a royal reception

  • November 8, 2018

This Remembrance Day will almost certainly be unforgettable for an 11-year-old Thornhill, Ont., student — in more ways than one. 

It started with Sonja Csik, a student at St. Michael Catholic Academy, creating a “Lest We Forget” poster as a part of a school project to honour Canada’s veterans. Her artwork took first prize honours in local, provincial and national art competitions sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion. Then it was entered in the international Never Such Innocence competition where it earned second place from among more than 1,100 entries by students from 47 nations.

And that landed her an invitation to meet Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace at an awards ceremony this month.

Never Such Innocence, based in London, England, aims to engage children and young people around the globe with the centenary of the First World War, which came to an end on Nov. 11, 1918 with the signing of the armistice.

Sonja is a student in the York Catholic District School Board’s Elementary Regional Arts Program at St. Michael’s. She answered the call in October 2017, inviting students in Grades 4-6 to enter the Legion’s annual art and literacy contest. Her original poster is now on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where it will remain until June 2019.

Each year in the lead up to Remembrance Day, students across the nation are taught about the sacrifices that so many made, young people for the most part just a few years older than themselves. Sonja has taken these teachings to heart, with her work encompassing the soldier’s coat, helmet and rifle in a field of poppies. She said she wanted to honour those who sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy the world we live in today.

“Remembrance Day is important to me because Canada is a free country (due to their sacrifice) so we can live freely,” she said. “I just wanted to draw something because it means a lot to me.

“They sacrificed their lives so we can have a good life and live in Canada freely.”

“Branch 375 of the Royal Canadian Legion is proud to be represented by such a talented young woman,” said Terri O’Connor, youth education chairperson for the Richmond Hill, Ont., branch. “Sonja’s poster, ‘Lest We Forget,’ is a beautiful reminder of the importance of fostering remembrance and honouring our Canadian veterans.” 

Legion Branch 375 donated $2,000 to Sonja to help defray the costs for Sonja and her mother, Timea, to travel to England. Another $750 was raised among members and the cheques were presented to Sonja at a branch meeting in mid-October.

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