Jennifer Hirlehey appointed as chair and Mischka Crichton as CEO of Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Jennifer Hirlehey

Just as the Caribbean Camera was readying this week’s paper, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (TCC) delivered a press release announcing several key management changes. The annual festival has been without a CEO and Chair since the early Fall with the departure of last year’s CEO and Chair Laverne Garcia.

Ajax lawyer Jennifer Hirlehey has been appointed the Chair and last year’s Festival Manager, Mischka Crichton, has been named Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

Hirlehey is described as an established community leader who is serving in her first year as a Board member for TCC. She is quoted as saying she is “excited and proud to make a contribution to this grand tradition that has given so much to our Caribbean community and all Canadians for 56 years. I’m humbled and honoured to serve the festival’s mission in the role of Chair alongside my esteemed Board colleagues.”

Mischka Crichton. last Carnival’s Festival Manager, is now the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). As a carnival participant since the age of four, Crichton is a 3-time winner of the iconic King and Queen of the Bands (Female Individual). She has 16 years of professional experience in administration, strategic planning and change management.

In addition to Ms. Crichton’s promotion, the Board also announced the promotion of long-time organizer Adrian Charles. Last year’s Logistics Manager, Charles is now the Festival’s General Manager. He has been with the festival for a decade

Mischka Crichton

Hirlehey and Crichton will serve alongside Toronto Caribbean Carnival Board members Keith Anatol, Anne Marie Sutton, and Angela Pierre.

What carnival watchers find interesting with yesterday’s announcement is not what has been said but rather what has been left out.  Not once in the two-page release from the TCC was the name Festival Management Committee used. The FMC has long been the controllers of the summer event.

Formed some 17 years ago at the insistence of City Hall, the FMC has held the purse strings on all government and sponsorship contracts. Is the FMC now no longer in existence or is the TCC just a new name?  If the TCC is a different entity who gave the TCC the keys to their previously unannounced new offices and what are the new rules for the 2023 festival?

In the first year, the city’s FMC gave seats on the board to the Toronto Mas Bands, the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA) and the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA). While the TCC has promised to give representation to its stakeholders, no names were released yesterday.

We put the question to the TCC’s spokesman Andre Newell but of press time the paper has not heard back from the historically secretive carnival festival.