2018 Winners

Mason Victoria

Age 22

Category: Music

Mason Victoria is a jazz composer, arranger, conductor, and trumpeter. He’s the director of the 21-piece band, the Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra, which pushes the limits of contemporary big band through all-original compositions and arrangements. He’s no stranger to awards and recognition, having won the Toronto Duke Ellington Society Composer Award, and a 2018 MARTY Award for Emerging Instrumental Artist. He has received critical acclaim for his first full-length album, Imagine We're Sailing.

One of Mason’s recommenders for the award wrote, “When you see Mason immersed in his music, what stands out is his passion, and his adventurous (but not reckless) approach to whatever he does, and it is a passion which inspires everyone around him.”

Mason says that receiving this award will allow him to bring exposure to The Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra (SSJO), which was created to motivate young professionals and developing artists. The SSJO has proven itself as a beacon of inspiration to Ontario’s youth by being one of the youngest professional large ensembles, and this award will help grow their audience and support this message. 

Sereen Aziz
Age 18 
Category: Visual Art
Sereen Aziz is a student in the International Baccalaureate Program. She has always been passionate about art, and when the Syrian refugee crisis began, she was inspired to use art as a way to start conversations and create social change. Many of her oil paintings and sketches reflect the struggles of the Syrian people and highlighted Syria’s beauty. In 2017, she helped form Young Artists for Syria. In March of 2018, she was a panelist at the University of Toronto’s Peace Conflict and Justice Conference: Resistance through Art, where she spoke about art as a tool for healing and social change.

Sereen is described as an inspiration to young women who serves her community and leads her colleagues to do the same.

Sereen says that she is eager to turn her ideas into projects, and with the money from the Ron Lenyk Award, she hopes to engage youth in a community project, perhaps the creation of mural. Winning this award would motivate her to take Young Artists for Syria’s work to the next level and dream big!

Selena Xu 
Age 13 
Category: Music 
Selena Xu is in the seventh grade at St Rose of Lima Separate School. At the age of 6, she began playing the Chinese Zither, a 21-stringed plucked instrument. When she was only 7 years old, she scored one of the highest marks on the grade 4 music exam. She went on to win awards at the Kiwanis Toronto Music Festival, and has performed in Mississauga and Toronto, from fundraisers to seniors homes to the Bollywood Monster Mash Up at Celebration Square.

Selena sees her music performances as a way to share her Chinese culture and to build bridge between people through the common language of music. Music has helped her to make friends and imagine more about the world.

In addition to playing music, Selena is also a French immersion student and a member of the Sea Cadets.

Pujita Verma 
Age 17
Literary Arts
Pujita Verma is a student at Glenforest Secondary and is a spoken word poet, who has shared original work in-print and onstage, and recited poetry at school events, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, the Isabel Bader Theatre, Mississauga City Hall, CBC Radio and Television, and poetry slams across the GTA. 
Pujita says that she is inspired by the power of poetry to break barriers and give a voice to issues otherwise overlooked. Her poetry reflects culture, self-identity, life, family, and the miraculous nature of seemingly ordinary things.

As a volunteer with Ink Movement Canada, she shares her passion for poetry with high school students across the Peel Region. She was recently appointed as Mississauga’s second Youth Poet Laureate for 2018 to 2020.

One of recommenders for this award noted that Pujita brings life to poetry, makes the extra effort to reach out to other young writers after slams, and is a role model who Inspires our city’s youth in the literary arts.

Winning this award will help Pujita pursue literary arts in a post-secondary program, and will support her efforts to have her work published.