Montreal Caribbean community excited for carnival parade after last year’s cancelation

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Montreal Caribbean community excited for carnival parade after last year’s cancelation
Montreal Caribbean community excited for carnival parade after last year's cancelation – Apr 14, 2024

There’s was a collective sigh of relief among members of Montreal’s Caribbean communities, as news broke late last week that the city approved plans to throw a Caribbean carnival parade this summer.

“Yes, yes,” beams Montreal Soca deejay, Jason Forbes. “I am so excited that that’s actually happening. It’s crazy how much of a difference a year can make.”

Last year many in the city were devastated when Montreal denied long-time organizers a permit to hold the decades-old parade citing, among other issues, problems with the group’s governance.

“People weren’t happy with the way things were going,” Carimas spokesperson Kris Bennett told Global News. “It wasn’t just the city that wasn’t happy. It was the community as a whole that wasn’t happy.”

This year the Caribbean Coalition Network of Montreal (CCNM), a group of local associations representing communities from seven different Caribbean islands, just got the city’s blessing and funding to host events over a four-week period under a new name, the Montreal Carimas Festival.

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“Starting from the 9th of June, culminating with the parade on the 6th of July,” explains Bennett.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Caribbean carnival in Montreal, and there will be four events. They include two pageants, a carnival for kids, called Petit Carimas, the Carimas parade and Carimas Sizzle — a gathering following the parade for people to relax and and enjoy cultural activities. Bennett says the CCNM is seeking a five-year mandate to host the parade and is waiting to hear back from the city.

Guests at a brunch at the Jamaica Association of Montreal, a member of the CCNM, say they just got the news.

“Yes, I am thrilled and excited,” beams Julia King. “It’s going to be amazing. I’ve always attended the parade and I was very disappointed that it didn’t take place last year.”

Shari Waldrich is also ecstatic but admits she has concerns about how quickly organizers can make the carnival happen.

“I mean there’s really no time,” she points out. “I believe the event or the parade will be in July. I mean, that’s two months away.”

Carimas organizers just started a campaign to raise another $75 thousand on top of the $30 thousand grant from the city. But Forbes whose organization, YUL Cultural Association, is helping the CCNM to organize the Petit Carimas and Carimas parades points out that behind the scenes preparations have been quietly happening for months, and that the communities are getting ready.

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“We’re starting to see it already,” he states. “Calls have been coming in, we’ve been getting emails, we’ve been getting messages on social media. There’s real excitement in the city.”

Ketlyn Maitland Blades, president of the the Dominican Island Cultural Association of Montreal, another CCNM member, agrees and is optimistic because of the support she’s seeing in the days since news broke that the parade is on.

“A lot of people are coming forward, who we didn’t expect to, to donate,” she stresses, “and that’s a plus.”

She, Forbes and organizers admit, however, the real work is just getting started.


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