Saanich International Student wins a significant Art Award

In November 2009, Ichiko Sugiyama, a grade 12 student at Claremont Secondary School, has won the Vancouver Island Regional award in an art contest sponsored by the Canadian Legion to promote world peace.

Ichiko is from Tokyo, Japan and has been an international student at Claremont since grade 10. She will graduate in June and plans to attend a University in Canada this September to study engineering. Ichiko says her painting, “depicts a young woman looking back at war and ahead at peace”. She says, “I am doing it for Canada, the painting is in support of peace. I used light pastel colours to represent life.” Claremont principal, Mark Fraser, presented Ichiko with her award and confirmed that Ichiko’s painting has now been submitted for provincial and national recognition by the Canadian Legion. Claremont International Program Coordinator, Milt McNeil, says he is so proud of Ichiko’s accomplishments and is amazed at how she balances a heavy academic load with a broad range of electives but still finds time at school to play a sport and be involved in social activities.


“It’s a great experience to live alone in an unfamiliarMarkus from Germany environment where you have to adapt to the different culture. The challenge to become self-confident and independent is incredible and the fact that you can say that you’ve had the time of your life at the end makes everything perfect.”


When Marc first arrived in Saanich from Hong Kong, he joined a local fencing club. “I’m glad I can continue  with my fencing and get this amount of practice time here.” Marc is also enjoying school life in Saanich. “The teaching and learning here is much more interactive; not so much sitting and listening as in Hong Kong schools. The semester system is more relaxing because we only have to focus on four courses at a time rather than the thirteen I am used to in Hong Kong. “Also, the weather is more comfortable—not so hot and sticky as back home so it just makes it easier to do things.”

Justin & Gerard

Justin and Gerard

“Back home it is so hard, there is so much testing and the teachers are very strict. It is easier here, there is  less pressure and you have more free time to do whatever you want, like reading and piano. I would tell other students, ‘Yes, you should come. This is a really good experience that makes you more independent. You have to be prepared to miss your parents.’” 

“You must make the effort to meet new friends. I have several Canadian friends and they really help me. My teacher also showed me what there is to do here and at home I joined in the family things. Also, you can go out and walk in the streets here without being afraid.” 

Michiyo - student from Japan

Michiyo from Japan

“The school is good, the students are so nice, they help me with my English. The teachers are so friendly and  funny here and always help me.”

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