Deborah Chang Kit Minott – the boss mas designer

Deborah Chang Kit Minott

by Rebecca Kerr

When you first meet her, she is warm, welcoming and smiling. But underneath that veneer is a fierce dynamic, extremely tenacious creative mas’ designer. Deborah Chang Kit Minott has been a successful winning designer with one of the top mas’ bands in the city Carnival Nationz’s Junior Kiddies band Lil Nationz. She has to her credit, titles in the King Queen and Male and Female Individual categories. 

With the Toronto Caribbean Carnival getting ready to hit the streets after a 2-year cancellation due to the pandemic, mas’ camps are abuzz with activity as competition and parade day quickly approach. Recently Caribbean Camera sat down to chat with this talented artist as she shared her views and love for “makin mas”.

Caribbean Camera: Do you remember your first carnival experience? 

Deborah: As a young child in Trinidad, my father and uncle were incredibly involved in the Mas business. My Grandmother always made sure she took me to see the J’ouvert or “Old Mas” on Carnival Monday and the “pretty mas” on Carnival Tuesday every year. So, let’s say, I grew up in this. When I came to Canada and found out that there was a Caribbean Carnival, that was the icing on the cake. It was then I began my journey into the Mas business following in the footsteps of my father. 

Joanan Duncan

CC:  What did your introduction to mas in Toronto look like? 

D: First, I volunteered with the Saldenah Mas­K Club Mas band and later became a section leader making costumes for masqueraders. I just loved it. After some time, I moved to Toronto Revelers as a section leader and found myself designing and building the Junior King costume for my son when he was younger. Eventually I moved on to Carnival Nationz where I continued designing and building the big costumes for the children’s band, Lil’ Nationz , designing and building costumes for the Junior King, Queen and Male and Female Individual costumes. 

CC: You have won many titles for your creations, what would you say contributed to your successful designs? 

D: As I watched the band’s welder and costume designer James Quash do the wire bending for the adult costumes, I was fascinated with the art of Wire Bending. This is a particular art form in which very few people in Toronto are skilled. I was bitten by the wire bending bug, a whole new world had opened. I started teaching myself ways to form the wire for each piece of art work as the years went by. This is when I really started carving out my niche. I have been told that I may quite possibly be the only female wire bender in the Mas fraternity here in Toronto. 

CC: What are you looking forward to the most now that you can design and build again? 

D: Since the Pandemic had us at home, I realized that I am still very much into designing and building the costumes. As the days and months passed in 2020, my mind would be thinking about what I can design and build. When I heard the Soca music or any song, I found myself imagining the children dancing in the costumes to the rhythmic sounds. At nights I would even dream seeing the costumes crossing the stage. So, with that said, I am ready for 2022.

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival announced the launch of the Kiddies for Mas carnival with two major events set to take place this July 10, 2022 (Jr. King & Queen) and July 16, 2022 (Kiddies for Mas Parade).

Celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Grande Parade which was first gifted to Canada by the Caribbean Community during Canada’s centennial celebrations, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a spectacular display of costumes, music, and culture. 

This Caribbean tradition of parading through the street was founded in celebration of freedom and emancipation from slavery and is appropriately celebrated on what has been recognized by the Canadian government as Emancipation Day weekend.