Article originally published by the Lowertown Echo

Lowertown resident and Grade 8 student Daijah Celestin made her community proud at the 22nd annual MASC Arts Awards on Friday, May 12 at the National Arts Centre. She was honoured with the Molly Ellens Award, named after a beloved volunteer. The award provides a generous supply of visual arts materials to a young artist. This is an exceptional opportunity for Daijah to pursue her dreams and develop her skills.

Molly Ellens loved kids and the highlight of her year was volunteering at the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival. As a young girl, her parents could not afford art supplies so she had to decline an art school scholarship. When she died in 2006, the Ellens family asked friends to donate to MASC in Molly’s memory for young visual artists to be recognized for their passion for the arts. 

MASC artist Claudia Salguero introducing Daijah Celestin, winner of the Molly Ellens Award. (Photo: Bill Juillette)

Nominated by her teacher Mia Kakebeeke at York Street Public School, Daijah was one of 24 students in grades 6 to 8 whose creativity was celebrated at the awards gala.

Here’s what Mia wrote about her student.

Daijah is a talented and creative artist with the hope of becoming an interior designer in the future. She has had the opportunity to express her talent, creating multiple pieces of art for school and community events such as the York Street Public School 100th anniversary open house and the OCDSB Black Excellence Celebration. She is a girl of few words who speaks and connects with others through her art, and who is developing the confidence to shine by making York Street Public School and Lowertown a more beautiful place to learn and grow.

The evening was memorable, with over 200 people–family, friends, teachers and members of the arts community–coming together to share this joyful moment with the winners and nominees. The other five winners received year-long scholarships to pursue studies in their respective art disciplines with Allegro Music Schools, The Ottawa Children’s Theatre, The Ottawa School of Art, The School of Dance, and mentorship from local author Laurie Gough.

Daijah Celestin and Jane Ellens looking through the gift package of visual arts materials. (Photo: Bill Juillette)

This year’s awards presentation was hosted by CTV news anchor Stefan Keyes and featured a special performance by Honorary Patron and MASC artist Claudia Salguero. Claudia Salguero, a MASC artist originally from Colombia and known for her colourful murals, took to the stage to share her incredible voice and make us feel the rhythms of Colombian music.

MASC extends its gratitude to its partners, without whom this event would not have been possible, as well as the organizations who offer life-changing opportunities for the winners to pursue their passion.

Daijah Celestin with her family at the 22nd annual MASC Arts Awards. (Photo: Bill Juillette)