The FMC renames the Caribana festival amid controversy

The Festival Management Committee (FMC), the organization that has been running the summer Caribbean carnival for the past five years on behalf of the City of Toronto, has renamed it the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival (STCC) since it is no longer allowed to legally use the name Caribana, a registered trade mark of the Caribana Arts Group (CAG). The move follows an Ontario Superior Court ruling two weeks ago in favour of the CAG which replaced the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), the founders and owners of the festival.

Caribana was launched by a group of Caribbean community members in 1967 as a way of celebrating Canada’s centenary.

The new name was unveiled yesterday.

“It took about two months to come up with the new name and the process was not easy,” said FMC chair Denise Herrera-Jackson. “There were about 12 names that the board considered before we came to a final decision after looking at things like domain and trademarking.

“Now we have a name and we are past that hurdle, it’s time to start focusing on the festival.”

CAG chair Henry Gomez said his group is unhappy with the name change and they will continue to fight to regain control of the festival that brings in over $450 million to the city annually.

With the CCC mired in controversy and debt, the city and the Toronto Mas Bands Association (TMBA) – the organization of carnival bandleaders whose bands make up the actual parade – established the FMC five years ago in order to run the festival and to attract sponsorship.

Gomez insists his organization has cleaned up its act and is ready to reclaim the festival.

“We are not happy with what took place today,” said Gomez. “Obviously, we are not going to leave it the way it is. We are going to keep challenging every step of the way. We will now focus on Councillor (Joe) Mihevc, former Mayor David Miller and the past City Hall administration because it’s clear that this is a theft aided and abetted by the City of Toronto.

“This is the city taking a community’s property and assigning it to some other people to run it. As far as we know, this city doesn’t have that right. We have to get this back for our community.”

Herrera-Jackson said that the parade route will be modified.

“We will soon make an announcement on our plans to make the parade route more sterile,” she said.

FMC chief financial officer Chris Alexander said the festival is an important summer celebration of diversity through arts and culture in Toronto and as such is important to the roots of this city.