Ken Bruzual, true son of the Caribbean, dies at 82

Ken Bruzual at last year’s Official Launch

Kenrick Vincent Joseph Bruzual died last Saturday, 25th March, at the Scarborough Grace Hospital for a well-played 82.

In 2018, Ken Bruzual received the Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s Pioneer Award.

Lennox Borel, retired University of Toronto professor and long time colleague of Ken, said of him: “The development and evolution of the Caribbean Carnival Arts in Canada cannot be documented without the inclusion of the contributions of Ken Bruzual. Since arriving in Canada in the sixties, Ken has been involved in all things Caribbean.”  

On Bruzual’s passing Borel said, “I was saddened to learn of his passing.  Ken and I shared a long friendly relationship.  He was a student of mine at St. Mary’s College in Trinidad and Tobago and was a cadet in my platoon.  I followed his career as a member of the bugle corps in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.  We rekindled our friendship when we came to Canada.  He was very involved for many years in the Carnival Arts in Montreal and Toronto.  He acquitted himself very well as a Calypso judge.  He will indeed be missed.

Ken Bruzual was indeed the quintessential Caribbean icon. Requiescat in pace, my friend.”

Bruzual was born in San Juan, Trinidad, on October 6, 1940, and was raised there where he attended Nelson Street Boys R.C. School, then to St. Mary’s College.

Ken Bruzual

After serving in the Trinidad police force, Bruzual came to Montreal, Canada, in 1964 to study electronics and engineering at Montreal’s Radio College, moving on Sir George Williams University (Concordia University). He quit one year before graduation after responding to the call of the Caribbean.

He played steelband, raised money for the Trinidad & Tobago Association in Montreal and used the funds to sponsor various Caribbean community events. Later in 1967 Bruzual brought a mas band to the first Caribana parade in Toronto. The band was made up of students from Sir George Williams University. He moved to Toronto permanently in 1969.

He has supported the Caribbean Festivals in artistic, cultural and economic ventures, assisting the earlier stakeholder groups – CDC, OMBA, and OMPA – that produced the Carnival Arts.

He was a co-founder of the Calypso Association, and later OCPA and, working in administrative roles he played a crucial part in fundraising from Government and Corporate sources.

Ken organized the Calypso Monarch contests over several years and served as a member of the Monarch Judging Panel for over a decade. He promoted the local production of several music genres.

For the last 20 years of his life he published the Internet Newsletter CULTURE CHEST, and has photographed and amassed a vast historical catalog of Caribbean Artistic and Cultural expressions and evolution in Ontario. He did so despite ailing for three decades due to an injury he sustained from a major vehicular accident. Bruzual was driven by his passion for his Caribbean culture.

Retired librarian Dr. Rita Cox, renowned storyteller and admired as a leader in the community, has been a friend and a colleague of Ken Bruzual for many decades, and says this about the late and true Caribbean Man: “Ken was so interested and connected to his community that he kept a log of all of the stalwarts who had passed away through the years. He hosted a memorial service every year to honour them. He was a remarkable man, a true son of the Caribbean. I shall miss him dearly.”

Ken Bruzual is survived by Judith Niles, his partner for 45 years, daughters Jennifer, Jeanine, Khalilah, and son Kareem.

Funeral details will be announced at a later date.