Open Letter: Canada 150: Update — Gov't Launches New Logo

The Government of Canada releases the "winning" logo from the Canada 150 design contest.

Open Letter

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. 

I stand with you in collective disappointment that our government did not consider the impact this contest could have on our industry and the thousands who signed the GDC’s petition against the exploitive Canada 150 logo design contest.

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.

Design is a fundamental part of Canadian culture and heritage. The GDC had hoped that Canada’s 150 anniversary, and the corresponding visual identity, would be the cause of great pride and celebration. Unfortunately, it represents a glaring reminder of this government’s significant lack of understanding of the value of design, the creative process and the design profession.

As for the so-called winning contest entry, it would be inappropriate to offer any judgment without having reviewed a written brief and the designer’s rationale for comparison. Little has been disclosed. We do, however, know that the “winner” of this contest and all those who participated did not receive due compensation for their time or intellectual property. The GDC continues to feel disgust that the government not only did not fairly compensate those who provided graphic options but also that the so-called winner has just given up their rights of ownership of this mark. The government seems to have successfully exploited the intellectual property of students in the name of celebrating Canadian culture.

The fight is not over!

Over the next few days and weeks this image will be the topic of much discussion and debate. Let’s stand united once again and commit to not discredit or criticize the students who participated in the contest, but rather to strengthen our resolve for professional, ethical and fair business practices within the creative community and in our schools. Instead of focusing on the graphic work presented, let’s remind our elected officials of the importance of process. Good design comes from good design process.

I ask that each of you commit to writing to your MP about the importance of good process and business practice, and that contests erode our industry, devalue intellectual property and cannibalize the potential income of future generations of designers (and by extension, future federal tax payers). Ask for a personalized response. 

Visit:   to find your MP’s contact information and download a template letter to get your started — We want MPs to understand our industry and champion it to 2017 and beyond.


Adrian Jean CGD
Graphic Designers of Canada


Government Canada 150 Logo website: