Carib… I Mean, Scotiabank (Toronto) Caribbean Carnival

 

Well the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival (SCC) has now come and gone and with it many complaints and praises. but surprisingly from the wrong side of field for each.

This, for all intents and purposes, is a rant folks.

Since the fall of what was known as “Caribana”, SCC has taken it over and has, more or less, improved what was really a shy mirror to what you’d expect to see when it’s carnival time in a respectable Caribbean atmosphere. Since I haven’t been to one I have nothing to accurately compare it to, but there’s both an up side and down side to that; which I will get to later.

Let’s start with Thursday.

cred: Teeography (Tee Teeography Murphy)
cred: Teeography (Tee Teeography Murphy)

Dr. Jay, who is essentially the foremost known DJ in Canada when it comes to Soca music, (Just ask Iwer George) threw his annual “Re-Jouvert-nate”. It was as good as it’s always been. With performances from Problem child and Skinny Fab, you can’t go wrong. The atmosphere and vibes were just nice… as were the women.

Friday was prep day for many. Which is where my issues really come from. News came to me that some of the bigger bands were only handing out costumes on the Friday for either a section or in general which, in personal opinion, is ludicrous. Bands should have had all costumes finished by the Tuesday latest and sent out by Thursday leaving Fri to be the day to make any necessary adjustments. Especially considering that most registration took place way back in April/May and many sections were sold out before the end of that said month. I think, given their instagram feed, Toronto Revellers were the only ones who were saying come and play with us ’till the very end before SCC. One band apparently had soon to be masqueraders waiting 5 plus hours (No names though) for their costumes. That is utterly ridiculous. Sadly I wasn’t able to attend “Pan Alive” as I had planned.

Saturday. This serves as your disclaimer. Due to two prior altercations before I even got to the CNE, and the belief I had lost my wallet, I didn’t take many pics this year.

Caribana routeSo I got there, finally, safe and sound after deciding to walk there since I was #6 on the road, entered and was shocked that it was so easy to get in without any formal search. Not that I wanted a pat down, but as a safety measure, it would have been nice to have just that small bit of reassurance that some level of checking was done giving the more tragic side of Caribana’s/SCC’s past. I was even more bewildered that not many knew where to go. I had a general idea of where to go since I had seen that the parade route before hand and the mas set up was pushed back towards the “Medieval Times” building. But, as I said, there wasn’t many who knew where exactly to go or how best to get there or if that was even the confirmed spot to go to (I’m looking at you, you scarce parade marshals and organizing officials). I asked one person he looked me dead ass serious saying:

ELEW:(my question) Where do the mas players go?
SCC MEMBER (SCC.M)”Well, horse I ain’t know where that is nuh… that.. that ain’t my department.”
ELEW: but…. Ok. No thanks for you
SCC.M: no problem.

Luckily, I had recognized some mas costumes from both Revellers and Saldenah so I followed them and I got to where I needed. maybe 45 mins after getting to the mas set up area, we were on road. Which was fairly simple. We passed one judging point, and were well on our way to this apparent second judging point. Which, for the sake of reasoning, can ANYONE explain to me why there were two judging points? it was at this point that everything kinda went down hill in terms of wallet going missing and the parade becoming a problem for many others who paid to play mas. I will say this first; for quite some time I was a “non payer” to the event formally known as Caribana, so in many ways, I side with them, “the stormers“. From since I was small I have witnessed people hopping the fences to join the masqueraders down the Lakeshore. I never had an issue aside from the hip-hop/rap truck and the reggae truck in my frequent attendance at this event in past. Both of which I didn’t see this year (but for the life of me, I can’t fathom why any sensible person would want the hip-hop truck there considering most of the negativity and ignorance that, that genre of music promotes on the regular at the parade. And PLEASE don’t try to use conscious rap as a valid argument. You know damn well they won’t play that at on the road.). The hip-hop/rap genre of music really doesn’t fit the vibe of the carnival in honest opinion. But, as usual, money still has to be made. Any who, on the flip side, my mother has been participating with creating and making mas just as long as I’ve been half an egg and a sperm cell. She instilled in me an appreciation for the hard work that goes into making these costumes for so many. Furthermore, she always took me to see the “King and Queen” show where the bigger costumes would be judged and showcased. Since this year I was playing mas, I was hoping to catch a different vibe. I can certainly say, paying big dollars is almost a waste in Toronto as there was no difference to getting on the road. The “Stormers” (is it wrong that I think of storm troopers every time I say that word?) caused such an issue at this apparent second stage of judging (and most of the road I’m hearing), that no one could get back (as I was trying to find my wallet), some bands and some band sections apparently couldn’t cross said stage, and that “judging” couldn’t even take place as a whole since there were so many just “interrupting” the progress. Dr Jay had a series of tweets venting about how the organizers and parade marshals didn’t do enough to clear the stormers off the parade route much less give a clearing so each band could be judged. Also mentioned that there wasn’t in terms of notifying where the judging point was so that mas players could get organized to display their costume properly. For a minute, I will be honest. There isn’t much ONE single wo/man can do to stop hundreds of thousands of people from going wherever, but something can be done. This year I noticed most bands made no effort to lock off their band with orange fencing, rope, or the combination of the two with some skinny pieces of wood. If this be the new parade route and trend for mas bands going forward, I would suggest building some sort of actual stage (maybe closer to the assembly area) so that the rest of the road can be the party it seems to want to be each year. or if you insist on fencing, build it high enough and add barbwire or make it similar to the indy races fencing scheme. It obviously sucks that it must come to that, but in order to keep it mas friendly, how else can you prevent it? (you can sound off in the comment section below) In addition to this, its important to remember something. Not only do fences keep people out, they keep people in. So, even if you wanted to clear them off the road, you have to give them an exit point as well (typically close to the same place one can enter the parade route). Soon after accepting my loss wallet, I left to go home and slept. It was on hell of a good sleep. *UPDATE* OUT OF THE 9 BANDS (NOT ALL WERE ABLE TO COMPETE) THE WINNER FOR BAND OF THE YEAR WAS SELECTED: Toronto Carnival Band Of The Year Results: 1) Nationz 2) Saldenah 3) Revellers. I find this troubling as to what exactly did they have to choose from? However it was basically a no brainer as Nationz had won everything else mas wise prior to the parade. First time ever one band swept everything.

Sunday. I decided to try something different from the normal fete choices like Fire Fete (before someone takes that the wrong way, THIS IS NOT A DISS). I went to more of a lime than anything at the olympic island(one of the many Toronto island clusters, just to the left of centre island). It was honestly well worth it. granted there could have been more but it started from around 10 am and went to about 9:30 PM with musical acts like Blaxx, Iwer George, Pan Phantasy, Tallpree and more. I would say it was basically a Fire Fete, before Fire Fete. There was  LOT of room to hold hundreds more. What I felt was wrong or off about it was the fact it ended at 9:30. Once the bigger acts came on, the crowd responded and was ready to move and party. Time really flew by once the performances started (I got pics and video coming shortly for this event). But the biggest highlight for me was talking to the CEO (Knia Singh of the brand known as Caribana. We talked about his vision for the fateful day of when he and his team can reacquire whats now known as SCC. He is very ambitious in that desire. Obviously at the moment, what he wants is a bit of a long shot, but to try to sum it up, he wants to bring back the festivities of old to the younger generation so they can one day carry it forward as well but with way more accountability. I would suggest that after this year, Mr. Singh may have a real good shot at doing so.

“Look around you what do you see. Scotiabank. This isn’t a cultural event anymore, this isn’t a community event, it’s a corporate ad.”
-Knia Singh

 

He was right. I don’t think Scotiabank took in how much of a community setting Caribana was (or tried to be). We discussed many things like the process of making mas and I informed him that some/certain bands (for some reason) ship parts of the mas making responsibilities to “China” and he said one of the greatest things. “Why not ship it back home to Trinidad or just anywhere in the Caribbean?” and I told him he’s right. I don’t want this to come off as a racial thing, but for a moment think of it this way. So much of what the black community is/was has been “sold out” to others where we then lose out on passing it down/forward to future generations (I don’t just mean Caribana either). Does anyone remember/know of black wall Street? I’m not saying China doesn’t need the business from this, I’m not saying that the Chinese can’t make or even participate in making/playing mas (that’s just all kinds of ignorant). I just personally feel that if we, as a whole or even an individual, are gonna let someone profit off this thing (which no matter what will be the typical elected official) why not share the wealth within the same place this all started? I obviously don’t know if, in the caribbean they do the same thing by shipping it out, but I see it like this. A few years ago some Canadian politician said that making our own Canadian flag in China was “wrong” (I want to say it was the late Jim Flaherty) so technically this is no different than our national flag.. Since this style of mas is predominately a caribbean thing, why are we letting “others” make our thing? Again, this isn’t a race thing, this is just about keeping something within our community and within our culture. Yes! I know there are all walks of life in the caribbean from Black, White, Asian, Dougla, etc. But being able to give back to them from up here, I think would serve a higher purpose then waiting for whoever is going back “home” and filling up their luggage with things to take back, or sending barrel after barrel to aid members of the family still back “home” or just its citizens in general.

As for Monday, I went to Smile 4 and took video coverage for that, so be on the look out for that.

UPDATE:

PHOTO’S ARE UP

 

https://www.facebook.com/eLEWsiveThoughts – FOR MORE! (LIKE THE PAGE!!! TAG YOUR FRIENDS)

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coolyongelew

Comic nerd. Movie lover Director Gaffer/Lighting Tech D.O.P. Photographer

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