OPSEU Coalition of Racialized Workers

OPSEU’s Workers Of Colour at 2013 Toronto Caribbean Carnival

OPSEU’s Workers Of Colour at 2013 Toronto Caribbean Carnival


On Saturday August 3rd, 2013, the Workers of Colour Caucus invites all members to participate as we celebrate North America’s largest festival of Caribbean history and culture –Toronto Caribbean Carnival. WOCC will also be at the Junior (kiddies) Carnival on July 20th, Vaughan"s CariVaughan on August 4th and Barrie"s Caribfest August 17th.

For the fourth year, the Workers Of Colour Caucus will join Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club with their presentation of "Heaven and Earth" in the Xpats section "Aurora Borealis" (base colour of midnight blue, with pink, gold and turquoise jewels).

Registration is on a first-come-first serve basis and is limited. For more information and registration, please contact Vince Gobind at invinceable.intl@gmail.com.

The History of Toronto Caribbean Carnival

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly known as Caribana) has run annually since 1967, and was originally performed as a gift from Canada"s Caribbean community, as a tribute to Canada"s centennial.

Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival, like other Caribbean festivals around the world, is more than just a party. It is a breaking down of the artificial barriers of society – of class, race and wealth. It is a celebration of Caribbean culture, food, creativity, art, music and history including the diverse ethnic and social make-up of the people of the Caribbean islands: people of African descent (both slaves and free); French plantation owners; East Indian and Chinese indentured labourers; British, Spanish and Creole settlers and the indigenous Indians. It is a celebration of literal and spiritual emancipation.

Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival is generally perceived to be based on Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. Before 1834, when slavery was abolished, Trinidad"s Carnival celebrations had two aspects: torches, drumming and other African-derived ceremonies of the slave classes, and the other being the “fancy-dress” silks and satins of the European plantation owners. Often, French monsieurs and madames would dress as fantastical versions of their own slaves, while the slaves would parody the plantation owners. After emancipation, former slaves, under the concealment of a costume, brought their dances, their songs and their festival traditions to the streets, recreating in symbolic ways the freedom from the "cane fields" and from slavery.

Toronto"s Caribbean Carnival falls on the anniversary of the emancipation from slavery in Trinidad, August 1, 1834, and also on the date of a European festival celebrating the first loaf of the new year"s wheat and the opening of the fields for common pasturage.

Carnival and Caribana has evolved from this, to masquerade bands at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival competing for top honours called “Band of the Year.” This competition reflects the diverse expressive traditions of the Caribbean. The bands must pass a judging point which will rate each band section for its costume design, energy of masqueraders, creativity of presentation–to name a few. Caribbean Carnival has grown from hundreds on Yonge Street in the late 1960’s to thousands on University Ave in the 1980‘s and 1990’s to one of Canada’s major tourist attractions with over a million participants on the Lakeshore today. While Caribbean Carnival runs for two weeks, its climax is the Parade of the Bands on the final weekend of the festival.

Thanks for 2012 Successes!

The Workers of Colour Caucus would also like to express its appreciation to everyone who participated and made the 2012 Toronto Carnival season a successful one!

We would like to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to Winston, Sandra and all of the XPATS people who worked tirelessly to produce such a beautiful costume for the Workers Of Colour Caucus (and of course—for their patience).

WOCC would like to thank OPSEU for the use of the OPSEU truck at the Junior Carnival, Vaughan"s CariVaughan and Barrie’s Caribfest. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Equity Unit for its support and to Monty Mohammed, who volunteered to drive the truck at each of these events and for ensuring that OPSEU and the WOCC"s flags were flying high.

We would also like to thank all the Locals for their donations towards the costumes. Especially Local 311, Local 348, Local 106, and Local 571.

Last, but definitely not least, we would like to thank the masqueraders, everyone who was in a costume at the parade–THANK YOU. Four out of seven regions represented at the Toronto Carnival. We would like to send a special thanks to Sara Labelle, EBM from Region 3, Krista Miracle EBM from Region 5, Sandi Blancher EBM from Region 1, Felicia Fahey EBM from Region 6 for taking the time out of their busy schedule to participate in the parade.

Looking forward to doing it all again–"WE READY FOR THE ROAD"