‘Caribana Mini Youth Parade’ a Mega Success

By Lincoln DePradine

Learning about culture, history, pride through costume making

Caribana Kids on parade

The Caribana Arts Group (CAG) and Tropicana Community Services (TCS) have completed the second year of a project that is producing future generations of wire-benders and other creative talents to sustain the carnival culture, which originated in the Caribbean among enslaved Africans.

Officials at both CAG and Tropicana have underscored the importance of the project, saying they intend to see its continuation and further expansion.

“It’s really about trying to pass the culture along, preserve it, keep it alive, keep it going,’’ CAG vice-chair Tashia Antoine said while commenting on a “Caribana Mini Youth Parade’’ held last Friday in Scarborough.

The parade, at the Huntingwood Drive parking lot of Tropicana, followed two weeks of Monday-to-Friday workshops at TCS and facilitated by cultural aficionados, choreographer Martin Scott-Pascall, and veteran costume designer Deborah Chang Kit-Minott. “Both of them did a fantastic job,’’ Antoine said in an interview.

The workshops and culminating parade involved about 40 masqueraders in three costume sections, including king and queen.

“The children made their own costumes. It was really good and well-received by everyone,’’ said Antoine.

The CAG/TCS project, first held last year, is not just about the art of costume-making and dance, Antoine said.

The young participants, whose roots are in the Caribbean and Africa, made flags of various nations and were taught lessons in history and culture, she explained.

“The educational aspect is what is really, really important to us. We teach them their culture, and about having pride in where they come from and pride in the creative expression,’’ she said.

“We went back to Africa and talked about coming to Canada and why we have Caribana here and keeping the art of masquerade alive. It was really great to see that the children grasp that.’’ 

Antoine said she’s satisfied with the outcome of the project, which has an overarching objective.

 “We’re trying to connect the dots, in terms of what our culture represents, what it stands for; and, that it’s all connected to Emancipation and Black liberation. So, I’m very pleased,’’ said Antoine.

“It’s really a mission of ours, to try to lead the youth and show them that there is work in our field of creativity. You can actually make a living doing something that you’re passionate about and be proud of it.’’