Trinidad & Tobago culture and her Canadian employer are very close to Sherene Jattan’s heart.
Noted for her creativity, the Toronto Police Service civilian member designed colourful costumes that were worn by Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI), Pro Action Cops & Kids and community members at the third annual Caribana Arts Group (CAG) Flags & Colours children’s mas’ festival last Saturday.
The parade started at Driftwood Community Centre and ended at Yorkgate Mall.
“Although the costumes are the same colour co-ordination, they are slightly different,” said Jattan. “They represent humans who are the same on the outside, but who possess something unique on the inside. I think it’s perfect that these kids have the opportunity to come out and have some fun for the day.”
Another Service member also played an integral part in the parade.
Just over two decades ago, Constable Jennifer Dekezel met her biological parents for the first time. They were born in Trinidad & Tobago, which is home to one of the world’s largest carnivals. Meeting her parents opened her eyes to her culture and she has been playing mas’ for the last 16 years.
Since 2007, Dekezel has been running a mentoring program – Girlz will be Girlz – for students in 54 Division where she’s assigned.
“When I asked the girls if they would like to take part in this parade, there was no hesitation on their part,” said Dekezel, who grew up with foster parents in a rural Manitoba town. “They jumped at the opportunity to come out here and celebrate.”
Former CAG chair Henry Gomez publicly acknowledged the police’s presence.
“Superintendent Tony Riviere, Inspector Riyaz Hussein and the rest of the officers at 31 Division have shown they are willing to work with us and the community to enhance police-community relations,” said Gomez. “We appreciate what they are doing and what the rest of the organization has done to be part of our festival.”
With the support of their parents, nearly 200 children and young people from around the city took advantage of the brilliant sunshine to play mas’ and celebrate Caribbean culture.
“This festival is important because it’s put on by volunteers and people in the community,” said CAG chair Knia Singh. “In the past, we have come in here with a festival and leave after it’s finished. That’s not the case anymore. Since 2012, we have involved all the community centres, schools, school boards and politicians to make sure Jane & Finch is recognized and the people in this community get to participate fully in this event.”
Mayor Rob Ford and mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory attended the celebration.
“Some of the people involved in this festival have been part of the Caribana celebrations for many years,” said Tory. “It’s important to say that we just can’t abandon those who were there from the beginning or for a very long period. This is an important festival and I have always been here to celebrate with this community.”
By RON FANFAIR