A pair of Chilliwack students who won gold for 2-D animation at last month's Skills Canada BC provincial competition won't be going on to the nationals this month because one of them is an international student.
Hosuh Lee and Aidan Kavanagh, both Grade 10 students at Sardis secondary, wowed judges at the provincial skills competition April 18 with a short animated movie featuring a pith-helmeted explorer being chased to the edge of a river gorge by a group of spear-wielding natives.
The theme-given to competitors at the start of the competition-was "now or never."
Although the movie is only 17 seconds long, it took the Sardis team seven hours to create because, unlike their competitors, they drew each frame one by one.
"It makes it look a lot smoother and better," said Kavanagh.
Another feature that set the film apart was its variety of camera angles and distances.
"Their product was just better," said Sardis teacher Greg Barber who taught both students animation last semester.
Judges thought so too and awarded the team the gold medal.
Normally that would have qualified them for the National Skills Canada competition, being held in Edmonton May 13 to 16 this year, but on Thursday they were told Lee wouldn't be allowed to compete.
Rules state that, while anyone registered at a B.C. school can compete at the regional and provincial level, only Canadian citizens and permanent residents can compete at the nationals.
Although Lee has been a student in Canada for four years, he only holds a student visa.
Sardis principal Diego Testa called the news "crappy" and hoped there was some way to appeal the decision.
"One can't go without the other. It seems a bit unfair," he said. "This is about their learning too, right?"
It seems unlikely, however, that Skills Canada officials will change their minds.
"It is spelled out in the rules and regulations, and they should know that before going into it," said Skills Canada BC executive director Adam Thorvaldson about the citizenship requirements.
Rules differ between the provincial and national Skills Canada organizations because they are distinct entities, he said.
Both organizations seek to showcase skills and expose student spectators to different careers in trades and technology, but the national event has a competitive component that makes citizenship more relevant.
"At the national competition we're looking at crowning a Canadian champion," National Skills Canada CEO Shaun Thorson told the Times.
Because that champion moves on to international competition, he or she ought to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, according to the organization.
"We are looking to select individuals to participate at the WorldSkills level. We want them to represent Canada and so, obviously, that would be an important element," Thorson said.
With a growing number of international students like Lee spending most of their elementary and secondary education in Canada, however, Thorson said Skills Canada may well have to revisit at their regulations.
"We do review our policies from time to time," he said, "and so it may be something we would look at revising in the future."