A stylized maple leaf designed by a 19-year-old student has been selected as the official logo of Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017.
The multi-coloured logo featuring diamond shapes of various sizes topped over 300 entries considered in the federal government’s student-only national logo design competition. The design holds a striking resemblance to the 1967 logo celebrating Canada’s centennial, which is a maple leaf made of multicoloured triangles.
Ariana Cuvin, a University of Western Ontario business and digital arts student, said the four largest diamonds are meant to represent the four provinces that formed Confederation in 1867. The remaining smaller diamonds represent the remaining provinces and territories that later joined the country.
“The repeated shape is meant to create a sense of unity and the 13 shapes forming the leaf represents our togetherness as a country,” Cuvin writes.
“In the coloured iterations, the centre four diamonds are similar in colour. 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 multi-coloured iteration gives a feeling of diversity while the red one shows pride and unity.”
Cuvin received a $5,000 prize for her winning design, which will be used in all of the federal government’s events and products for the 150th anniversary.
However, the selected design and the logo competition have hit a sour note with Canada’s professional design community to the extent that a petition was circulated calling for a halt to the ‘exploitive’ competition.
“The Canadian government ignored the comments from professional designers and students across Canada and announced the ‘winner’ of their Canada 150 speculative logo design contest,” reads an open letter by Adrian Jean CGD, president of Graphic Designers of Canada.
“As a professional designer I am deeply disheartened that our government would choose to exploit students in this manner despite our efforts to educate the government that contests like these are unethical, detrimental to students, to professional graphic designers, and to Canada in general.”
But Cuvin says she doesn’t feel that way. “I don’t feel like I was being exploited. It was my choice to join the contest. I knew what I was getting out of it in the end,” Cuvin told the Ottawa Citizen.
The logo competition was launched after Heritage Canada received highly negative reviews for its initial design considerations in 2013. A $40,000 commissioned study on the first five options described the designs as too hockey-centric and even ‘too American.’