Sustainable Development Goals artwork by Illustration students showcased by Colleges and Institutes Canada

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals” illustrated by students in the Illustration program at Dawson won the 2023 student art competition of Colleges and Institutes Canada.

“36 illustration students collaborated on this fanzine project along with Sustainable Dawson,” said Stéphanie Aubin, co-chair of and instructor in the program. “They had to create an illustration that would be evocative and powerful visually. Their illustration could be based on a personal experience or a researched fact. Each student’s approach to their subject was different, which makes the project even more unique.”

Three of the winning students shared their thoughts about the project.

Mirella Bacco

  1. Tell me about your artwork in this exhibition (Sustainable Development Goals theme)

MB: I was assigned the “No Poverty” goal and my artwork was inspired by my mother-in-law’s life story. She was born into a very modest family and her father abandoned them (mother and three young children). She had to work at the age of 15 to support her family financially, which led her to her first job at a lollipop factory. She often got burnt and some days had to choose between eating or paying rent but managed to keep the family alive and provide them with basic needs. Maria worked her entire life to protect and provide for her family according to her basic knowledge and opportunities. Although she could have gone into very difficult paths, I admire her very much for her will to keep going and choosing dignified alternatives, always thinking of her family even at a very young age. It is an example of a very strong woman who was determined to get out of poverty and survive until she built the life she could have and wanted.

  1. How do the SDG’s inspire you and/or inspire your art?

MB: The goals are the ideal plan for a better world. Having come from a country filled with social inequality (Brazil), it is inevitable to not wish for and envision a better world where people’s basic needs are met, where they have equal rights and the environment is protected. The goals inspire me to make better choices and fight for what’s right so that we can see some change. I am personally strongly drawn to Nature and its preservation, so the goals relating to this topic speak to me the most. I attempt to create artworks that portray the beauty, strength and importance of nature in the hopes that people will pay more attention to it and start protecting it as well.

  1. What does it mean to you to have your art on display in a national institution in Ottawa?

MB: It means the message is spread, which can awaken something in all those who see it. My mother-in-law’s story is inspiring and having it on display in a national institution means that we can tell people to keep going, fight for what’s right, defend dignity and live through hardships. It is a message of hope.

Sage Malanos

1. Tell me about your artwork in this exhibition (Sustainable Development Goals theme)

SM: Good Health and Well-being is often looked at thinking it’s your physical health, but I wanted to illustrate something of what people do, or can do, to benefit their mental health as people often neglect it. Going on walks, being alone and surrounded by Nature can ground someone to decompress. To get a breath of fresh air and just “Be” in the world, and that’s perfectly okay.

2. How do the SDG’s inspire you and/or inspire your art?

SM: Taking into consideration how we are in the world, I’ve found that, especially with how important these goals are, it inspires me to be better, not just for myself but for everyone around me whether it’s strangers or my friends and family. Talking about the politics of the world, especially with the rapid climate change is a harsh topic, and worrying too, but these goals definitely inspire me that there are ways to combat these issues. And as an illustrator, we don’t need to talk about it, but we can expose everyone to it in our own form of speaking, which is through art, and I’ve been seeing it a lot lately- which is truly inspiring.

3. What does it mean to you to have your art on display in a national institution in Ottawa?

SM: I’m honestly speechless. The idea of my artwork on display never would have occurred to me, and it’s such a great honour to be amongst several others to have it up demonstrating critical issues and resolutions on how we can all be sustainable.

Danik Renaud

1. Tell me about your artwork in this exhibition (Sustainable Development Goals theme)

DR: The UN Goal I was assigned to visually communicate is goal 10 – (Reduced Inequalities). I decided to take the position focusing on reducing inequalities for people with disabilities.

As it is a daily struggle for those living in a world vastly designed for abled people, it was important to represent equality and opportunities through accessibility in my illustration.

Through the metaphor of opening doors, I illustrated a person in a wheelchair facing a door that is accessible to them. To further strengthen the message of success, I made the door higher than the others, fully opened and glowing to express possibility. Lastly, to further connect the person with the door I made them the same colour.

Overall, my illustration set out to communicate the impact reducing inequalities has for people with disabilities.

2. How do the SDG’s inspire you and/or inspire your art?

DR: The UN Sustainable Development Goals inspire me as they can truly transform and bring change to the world. The SDGs motivate me through my art to use my own voice to represent and bring awareness to important issues.

3. What does it mean to you to have your art on display in a national institution in Ottawa?

DR: It means a lot that I can bring awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goal to others through illustration. Especially to have it displayed in a national institution in the capital of Canada. To be able to represent important issues through visual communication is very powerful and is something that I care about a lot.


Digital versions of the fanzines featuring the SDG illustrations:

Students who won:

  • Pol Balan
  • Camille Bastien
  • Lucas Bégin
  • Alexia Boreham
  • Arusha Bruns
  • Jade Carbonneau
  • Léa Crépeau
  • Koby Dumorne
  • Lara Hemlin
  • Yuki Hu
  • Juliette Lavoie
  • Jasmina Mansell
  • Jacinthe Morin
  • Alexandre Poupart
  • Danik Renaud
  • Erin Swatton
  • Melrick Valdor
  • Yubing Wang
  • Dariana Aburto Perez
  • Mirella Bacco Mannina
  • Nadjéa Benarowska
  • Coline Cadilhac
  • Julia Cane
  • Alessandro Cantor
  • Jihan Dindoyal
  • Katia Dubreuil-Tatlock
  • Sherine Messiha
  • Ori Fox
  • Uliana Gilbo
  • Éric Leclerc
  • Chi Lei
  • Lilian Ma
  • Sage Malanos
  • Amy McRae-Létourneau
  • Stanley Wang
  • Jingyi Xu

Last Modified: October 11, 2023