By Herman Silochan
Veteran mas band leader and community organizer, Julien Baptiste, passed away last week after a lengthy illness.
Though not a band leader at the inception of Caribana, he was there in 1967 in a supportive capacity, but years later he took an active role, especially nurturing youth and the arts. His group was called Julien Baptist and Buddies, An Association for Children.
This reflected in his family commitment which he sought to extend into the values of youth arts and culture. At the annual Kiddies Carnival celebrations, especially in the Jane-Finch era over the past decade, he was one of the main figures along the parade route supporting all bands as they marshalled past the judging stage. In his final years, ailing, he took to a motorized wheel chair but never lost his energy for organization.
Vice Chair of the Toronto Mas Bands Association, Louis Saldenah, said, “Julien Baptiste was a very straight-up individual, well respected, one of the most honest men you could work with. You knew where you stood with him, and he never let you down. He definitely added to the colour of our festival year after year. Our organization is poorer with his loss.”
Baptiste is survived by his wife, Bonnie, his son Ian, daughter-in-law Michelle, and three surviving siblings.
Funeral services will be on Thursday 10th January at St. Mary’s Catholic Church 66A Main street South in Brampton at 1:30 pm.