As we embark on our journey into the year 2024, The Caribbean Camera presents its community wishlist, outlining hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a brighter future in the New Year.
The wishlist encompasses various facets of our community – economic empowerment, cultural enrichment, social advancement and crime reduction. Let us delve into each of these areas, examining their significance and their potential impact, and consider the challenges along the way.
Economic Empowerment: Fostering a Culture of Prosperity
One of the primary aspirations on our wishlist is the need for more millionaires in our community. Yes, millionaires. It is a sentiment shared by many and the rationale behind this desire is multifaceted.
Historically, communities with a higher concentration of affluent individuals tend to garner more respect and recognition. Wealth, when used judiciously, can be a powerful tool for community development. It is not just about personal success; it is about “paying it forward” and creating a legacy.
However, the onus does not solely rest on creating new millionaires but also on the responsibility of “giving back” to the community. This entails mentoring, investing in local businesses and actively participating in community development. In many cultures, success is celebrated because it signifies that the individual will, in turn, uplift others, fostering a cycle of growth and mutual support.
Affordable Housing: Turning Funding into Home Ownership Opportunities
Recently, a significant allocation of funding was granted to create housing for the less fortunate. While the aims of this initiative are laudable, the execution and outcomes have fallen short of expectations. It is vital to ensure that such funding is utilized effectively and efficiently, addressing the root causes of housing insecurity.
In this context, a visionary approach would involve utilizing government funds to acquire city-owned land in the Greater Toronto Area and developing affordable homes. The emphasis should be on promoting homeownership, particularly within the Black community. Engaging Black contractors for construction not only reinvests money within the community but also empowers Black businesses, fostering economic sustainability.
To achieve this, a tiered approach could be adopted. Underprivileged Black homeowners may have limited choices when it comes to customizing their homes, while regular homebuyers may enjoy more options. The latter group, by purchasing these properties, effectively subsidizes housing for the underprivileged within the complex. The funds generated from the first complex can then be reinvested to kickstart the development of other projects, reducing the reliance on external support.
Cultural Enrichment: Nurturing and Celebrating Our Heritage
Cultural vibrancy is a cornerstone of our community’s identity, and our desire to continue covering Caribbean carnivals worldwide underscores our commitment to preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage.
Our local Carnival, though steeped in tradition, requires revitalization. Despite significant increases in sponsorship and government funding, the Festival Management Committee, organizers of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, must take bold steps to enhance the festival’s overall experience.
To attract more attendees and foster community involvement and ownership, new avenues must be explored. The rejuvenation of our local carnival can serve as a model for engagement and inclusivity, ensuring that the celebration truly reflects the diversity of the Caribbean and Black communities.
Let us not forget that the Caribana Arts Group (CAG) which launched (Caribana) the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in 1967, contributed millions of dollars to government coffers. Yet today the CAG is often treated as second-class citizens by both governments and the community at large.
The defunding of the festival by the city threatens its ability to continue its vital work. We must recognize its invaluable contributions and provide the necessary support to ensure its programs continue to thrive.
Acknowledging Excellence: Award Ceremonies with Wider Reach
Events like the Harry Jerome Awards and the Impact Awards hold a special place in our community. The thirty-eight year old Harry Jerome Awards has consistently recognized exceptional individuals within our community. To amplify its impact, it is high time that this event secures television broadcast on top-tier stations. This broader reach can inspire and empower more individuals while recognizing the outstanding achievements of our community members.
Similarly, the Impact Awards, now in its third year, should aim at expanding its scope and honoring a wider range of Caribbean community members who have made significant contributions.
These events serve as crucial platforms for celebrating excellence within our community, and their growth will only serve to inspire and motivate future generations.
The Urgency of Reducing Crime: Protecting Our Youth and Future
There is a pressing and urgent need to reduce crime within our community. The loss of young Black lives to gun violence and other forms of criminal activity is a heart-wrenching reality that we must confront. These tragic events represent not only the loss of individual potential but also a depletion of our community’s collective promise.
Every young life lost diminishes our community’s potential. Each dropout from school is a missed opportunity for growth and development. As the custodians of the community’s legacy, it is our responsibility to uplift and support our youth.
While previous generations have laid the groundwork, it is now up to the younger generation to dream big, work hard and contribute to building a stronger, healthier and more accomplished Caribbean/Black community.
The Caribbean Camera’s 2024 wishlist encompasses a wide spectrum of hopes and dreams for our community. The call for more millionaires emphasizes the need for shared prosperity and support for community development. Affordable housing initiatives aim to break the cycle of housing insecurity, promoting homeownership and economic empowerment. Our commitment to cultural vibrancy underscores the importance of celebrating our heritage and fostering inclusivity.
Recognizing excellence through award ceremonies can inspire future generations. However, the urgent challenge of reducing crime must not be overlooked, as the safety and potential of our youth are paramount.
As we step into this New Year, let us collectively work towards turning these wishes into reality. By embracing these aspirations and facing our challenges head-on, we can collectively build a brighter, more prosperous future for our Caribbean and Black communities. Together, we can make 2024 a year of transformation and progress.