“You are becoming the ambassadors for our environment!” announced Lyse Rousseau, the president of Rousseau Timbres et Monnaies which is located in La Baie D’Hudson in downtown Montreal. She was speaking to 69 students from Ormstown Elementary School at an awards ceremony that took place on February 10. “You could feel the excitement,” said Rousseau, who was thrilled to announce this year’s winners of the Junior Conservation Stamp Program.
For the past 35 years, Rousseau has been a member of the committee for the selection of the annual conservation stamp. Together with La Fondation de la Faune du Québec, they have raised thousands of dollars while at the same time encouraging Quebec artists. Six years ago, they decided to launch a new program, and opened the competition for the design of the conservation stamp to junior artists. The Junior Conversation Stamp Program is open to students in grades 4, 5, and 6, and since its launch, 400 students have seen their artwork appear on collector’s edition stamps. These stamps are also featured on all provincial junior fishing permits. “Their work has not only been inspirational; it has also been a creative way of sensitizing the next generation to the beauty of nature and the importance of protecting our wildlife habitat for future generations.” says Rousseau.
One school is chosen to participate every year. In the past, Montreal schools were the only contributors, but this year Rousseau looked towards a more rural school: Ormstown Elementary. 69 students in grades 4, 5, and 6 worked for six weeks on their paintings. This year’s chosen subject matter was the yellow perch.
On that snowy February day, students and staff settled into the school cafeteria for the unveiling of this year’s winners. The selection committee, including experts on fish, art, and stamp-making, had cast their votes. Winners in the honourable mention category were Harriette Legault, Olivia Bourdeau, Amelia Hutton, Kaiden Erskine, and Alexane Lessard; Geoffrey Renaud and Genesis Demers were tied for second place. First prize was awarded to Ély-Jade Hurteau.
Hurteau’s painting will be printed to create a limited-edition collectible stamp which will be made available to collectors across Canada and internationally. She will be invited to the official launch ceremony that will take place in Ottawa or Montreal, where she will meet with the winners of the adult categories for Quebec and Canada. The three winners will be asked to sign their stamps for collectors.
“The importance of marrying art and science with conservation has proven to be inspirational for the students, their teachers, and their parents and friends,” states Rousseau.