Carnival Arts and Culture Showcase only in Mississauga you say? Pity!

By Stephen Weir

The section leaders

To say that Johanna Grant is breaking the mould for how a band leader runs a Mas band is selling her short.  The Jamaican Canadian nurse is smashing it, and burning the rule books while she is at.

Her Freedom Mas Band is back for its second year with the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and will be one of the first participating bands to hold a costume launch for the 2023 Carnival season. Traditionally, Mas Bands hold evening spring launches in Toronto and charge admission. Grant is travelling a different road. Her costume launch on April 16th (Carnival Arts and Culture Showcase) will be held in Mississauga in the afternoon and it will be free!  Freedom Mas is the only band headquartered in Brampton/Mississauga.

“Freedom Mas Band was born out of the need to have representation of the Jamaican diaspora in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival,” Grant told the Caribbean Camera.  “It is abundantly clear that there is a lack of women in leadership within the Carnival Community!”

“My ideas are unconventional and are not often embraced. It is often a case of carnival men not wanting to hear what a woman has to say or worse because a Jamaican woman is saying it. Both of these titles have no business in Carnival business.”

But it is obvious that the CEO of Freedom Mas is all about women finding solutions. So it is not a surprise that this year she has an all-female team of section leaders and designers and their theme this year is Carnival Is Woman.  “It is the International Day of the Woman. We are so excited to show what women can do with the right tools and support.”

Last year Freedom Mas had only about 70 revellers on the road at the Grand Parade. This year they are planning for at least 350 people to buy costumes and Jump Up together. Despite all the gender talk, Freedom Mas is open to both male and female revellers proudly waving the Black, Green and Gold together this summer.

“We are holding our launch in the Small Arms Inspection Building,” she continued. This is where we will reveal our 2023 Costume Collection for both adults and children.  We are holding a small vendors’ market too.”

Not heard of The Small Arms Inspection Building? It is a large, historic, heritage building reinvented by the city as a cultural hub. It is located in Mississauga west of Etobicoke on Lakeshore Road East.  The building has free parking and is wheelchair accessible.

After the launch, Freedom Mas Band will open its salesroom and factory on Advance Road in Brampton with an outlet in Mississauga. They have a place in mind but are still in the process of signing a lease.  Once the ink has dried, they will be advertising the address of their western digs.