By KEN BRUZUAL
In his Share article “Scotiabank carnival is NOT 46 years old” (August 8, 2013), Publisher Arnold Auguste revealed correctly that the Scotiabank Carnival is not 46 years old, and gave the Festival Management Committee (FMC) a fair opportunity to make a formal public correction to the falsehood. Should the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC) or its predecessors: the Caribbean Centennial Committee or the Caribbean Committee for Cultural Advancement, have wished to ascribe title sponsorship to the various corporations that had provided substantial funding, sponsorship or resources thru the 39 years of the Festival during their managements, neither the names the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) nor Scotiabank would have appeared amidst those of the perennial sponsors, Coca Cola, Molson, Teleglobe, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, McDonalds, Lottario and several others.
Like any of the other small donors in 1968, when the Festival was in its infancy and not attracting the interest of large corporations, BNS was given notation and as such recognition for its petite contribution then. Other corporations maintained their alliance as some records attest. Can BNS/Scotiabank provide irrefutable proof of its title sponsorship thru the years?
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival from which this Toronto Caribana was spawned in 1967, is a Celebration of the Emancipation of Slaves, slaves formerly owned by Corporations. Emancipation is indeed a misnomer, as those who fought hard against the corporations’ European militia for freedom in Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and other Caribbean countries, in North, Central and South America would attest. In Upper Canada, Lord Simcoe was given the hardest time of his life to implement the Law of Emancipation and had to settle with his slave-owning parliamentarians for a protracted freedom that was NOT for the existing slaves but rather for new children born to the slaves.
The descendants of slaves, especially those in the Caribbean, and in particular Trinbagonians who have villages such as ‘Hardbargain’ and 3rd, 5th and 6th Company have sharp reminders of their forefathers’ negotiations and battles in the quest for freedom and for settlements. In no way do Caribbean migrants to Canada wish to consciously adopt the trend of giving title sponsorship on their heritage, arts, culture and intellectual property. Hence the reason why, in spite of persistent requests for title sponsorship during the first 39 years of the Festival, that title sponsorship was never granted.
Do the folks now running the festival know about this? Please compare with the established Brazilian Carnival Ball in Toronto for which Diamond, Gold and other statues are granted to sponsors and donors. Ownership is Domination, and in this case proven domination-by-association without compassion or pragmatism about the future of the culture and the Festival.
Why does the Ontario government not care whether the public perceive that the formula for funding of the festival mirrors the economics of slavery, the very situation that the successful battles for freedom and fair wages was meant to eradicate and then be celebrated? Further yet in enjoining the City of Toronto in violating Canada’s Trademark laws in taking away the Caribana festival from its rightful owners? And in creating a calamity? What’s the merit in having powers of governance if it could not use wisdom and discretion in forcing rather than threatening, to get things done rightly at the CCC?
Who are the ones responsible for this retrogression? It is significant that the province in which Caribana was introduced had the most appropriate holiday weekend, the Lord Simcoe day (or Civic holiday) weekend for the festival.
Has no one in those upper levels of government observed that the lack of employment and fair opportunity for members of this benevolent Caribbean community during the past four and one half decades was due to discrimination and resulted in a major breakdown in social order? When will these governments heed the pleas of this community and use some of the $44 billion largesse to directly give this community a hand up and invest wisely in good programs for apprenticeships, skills development, cultural advancement that would explode the Caribana/Caribbean Carnival largesse and in so doing also remove the incidences of repeated vehicle fatalities on the Carnival parade?
It would be very fitting and good PR for the FMC to always indicate that this is the festival that was nurtured by the three Committees named in the foregoing until the Mayor of Toronto and his liaison, Councillor Joe Mihevc, cut off funding in 2006 in an act of extremism and self-interest.
Within a few days of publicly announcing this cut-off of funding, I communicated with then mayor, David Miller, on the matter, and the mayor replied by e-mail stating that the City of Toronto had NO intention to take over the festival. Shortly thereafter the City instigated the incorporation of the private non-transparent Corporation, the FMC, with very well paid directors.
Why is there an instigated division between the FMC and the successor to the CCC, the Caribana Arts Group (CAG), whose mandates are different but with overlapping goals?
The Board of Directors of the CAG is now very different from that of the 2006 CCC. Both organizations comprise people of the Caribbean with a common language and just seven short years of division. The more dominant of the two organizations should reflect on the centuries long warring between myriad European and Asian countries with just as many different tongues, but which recently received a Peace Prize for harmony and their unification. The longevity of the festival partially depends upon mutual respect between the FMC and the CAG and in unification for pragmatic progression.