After playing mas’ in Trinidad & Tobago and most of North America, Keshia James thought her carnival experience was complete.
That was until she participated in Toronto’s Caribbean carnival last year.
“I have played mas’ in Baltimore, New York, Washington, Miami and of course Trinidad and I would have to say the one in Toronto is second behind Trinidad,” said James, an American, who drove from her Ohio residence. “This is simply amazing and an experience like no other. The parade is orderly and you have just a great time in this lovely city.”
The Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club reveller was among thousands who took part in a magnificent celebration of Caribbean culture at the 48th annual parade last Saturday.
New York resident Janet Lewis, the flag woman for Lord Kitchener in the 1970s, has been a regular attendee.
“I have been coming here for years because I love mas’,” said Lewis, a Spiritual Baptist bishop who migrated from Trinidad & Tobago. “The only problem with this one is that it has too much rules and regulations to find your band.”
For friends C.C. Wong, Veenuh Sharma and Amanda Bellisario, this was their first year jumping up in the carnival.
“We have a friend who takes part every year and we decided to try it,” said Bellisario, who played mas’ with Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club. “It’s never too late to do something new.”
Mayor John Tory, who attended the King & Queen and Pan Alive competitions at Lamport Stadium, joined municipal and federal politicians to cut the ribbon to open this year’s parade.
“This is, just like the Pan American Games, another indication to the rest of the world of how we live together in this city,” said the city’s chief magistrate. “We celebrate, and it’s not just people from the Caribbean or people with Black skin, but people with all colours of skin, all nationalities, all sexual orientations, who come out to celebrate each other and all the things that make Toronto so strong. This parade is always fun.”
Federal Minister Jason Kenney said the Toronto Caribbean carnival represents one of the key moments in Canada’s multicultural calendar.
“I cannot think of a more beautiful, vibrant, colourful, lively expression of our diversity than the carnival here in this city,” he said. “I want to thank you for making that happen and putting Canada on the map. I also want to thank all the members of Canada’s Caribbean communities for coming together, bridging whatever divides or differences they have, to present this beautiful expression of Caribbean Canadian culture that continues to enrich our country.”