Steelpan must be declared the national emblem of Trinidad and Tobago, The Pan Piper told The Camera at the annual showcase Snowflakes on Steel.
Hameed Shaqq, aka The Pan Piper, made the comment at P.C. Ho Theatre Chinese Cultural Centre as some of Toronto’s finest steelpan orchestras performed in the Pan Arts Network (PAN) 19th showcase last Saturday.
“Now is the time,” Shaqq said, adding that the National Emblems Act states that “The minister may grant to a person who makes an application in accordance with subsection three a licence to … display the Coat of Arms in connection with business, trade, profession or calling or with the activities of any body of persons whether corporate or unincorporated.
“So an act of Parliament is needed to declare the Steelpan our national emblem and musical instrument.”
Shaqq noted that “in 1962 the government did not declare the steelpan our national instrument,” so now the government must act. “The steelpan instrument must be recognized for its level of attainment in the modern world.
“The response of our creativity, cultural freedom and oppression, therefore, is as relevant as a symbol of freedom in Trinidad and Tobago as is the Statue of Liberty to the U.S.A.”
Shaqq, owner of Steelpan Plus and a former longtime music teacher in Toronto public schools, said pan enriched his life.
“I grew up poor but where pan has taken me beyond my Mom – just imagine, she never wanted me around pan, given the perception of negativity. Now and then I send her some pan money,” he said with a chuckle.
He said the steelpan is a unique discovery and a ground-breaking invention in its relationship to music.
Shaqq also praised steelband legend Dr. Jit Samarood who passed away recently. “Samarood who won the most Panoramas in the Mecca of the Steelband and Panorama was the first to three-peat. A great soul, thanks for the music.”
Among the performers on Saturday at Snowflakes on Steel was young rising star Kimya Hypolite who sang with Gemeni Pan Grove. She will represent Canada in the 2016 Miss Legacy event in Jamaica and just did an audition for the Lion King in New York City.
PAN’s next event is Sons of Steel on Jan.31 in Trinidad and Tobago.