“To represent powerful women on the field.” Ayesha Hossain, student at George Webster school, explains her prize-winning poster.
Ayesha’s artwork honours all women who served in military conflicts—but particularly nursing sisters of the Great War—with a special nod to one who died on active service.
The text to the right of the nursing sister portrayed reads:
E.L. Pringle. Canada Army Medical Corps. Killed by enemy aircraft at Doullens, France. 30.5.18
(Graduate nurse Eden Lyal Pringle, born in Glasgow, Scotland, was living with her parents in Vancouver, B.C. when she enlisted May 7, 1917. She was 24 years old when she died of wounds received during an air raid on her stationary hospital.)
Ayesha’s poster won second place across Canada in the intermediate level (Grades 7 to 9) colour poster—there is also a black and white category. It would have qualified for display in the halls of Parliament during the 2021 Remembrance period, but there will be no displays this year because of ongoing construction on the buildings.
The poster is, however, on the official Royal Canadian Legion site, along with winners dating back to 2003.
Ayesha’s entry followed the path of all contestants across Canada—moving through judges at: Branch, Zone, District, Provincial, and National level. The Legion gets more than 100,000 submissions from schoolchildren to their annual poster, literary, and essay contests.
The women of the Legion’s Branch 11 (near Main and Danforth) have worked for years with teachers and students in east-end Toronto schools. In spite of Covid restrictions, their efforts continued in 2020. Ayesha’s Grade 7 teacher encouraged her to enter the contest last December.
An August 20, 2021 afternoon gathering celebrated Ayesha’s win, the Royal Canadian Legion’s ongoing commitment to youth, and the first chance for Branch 11 to gather as a group after Covid lockdowns.
A cake with the nursing sister image on it, decorated tables laden with refreshments, Ayesha’s proud parents and brother mingling with Legion and community members, all remind us that remembering takes many forms.
Our complicated, often tragic military past can still resonate with today’s students. Ayesha Hossain creatively showed a sensitive connection to young women who sacrificed so much so long ago.