Annual Cariwest Festival celebrates carnival culture in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Sights and sounds of 2017 Cariwest Festival parade in Edmonton' Sights and sounds of 2017 Cariwest Festival parade in Edmonton
Sights and sounds of 2017 Cariwest Festival parade through downtown Edmonton. – Aug 12, 2017

Caribbean culture flowed through the streets of downtown Edmonton Saturday afternoon as the annual Great Parade made its way down Jasper Avenue.

The parade is a traditional part of the annual Cariwest Festival. An Edmonton staple for more than 30 years, Cariwest allows Caribbean Canadians to share their music, food and carnival culture.

“This is a historical event in Edmonton,” Joseph Roberts, who is from Trinidad, said. “Every year people are getting more knowledgeable about what the Caribbean culture is all about. Freedom to express yourself, and enjoy yourself.”

The Cariwest Festival runs from August 11th to August 13th. It was founded by the Western Carnival Development Association, to allow Caribbean Canadians to celebrate and share their food, music and carnival culture.

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Kamika is part of a Calgary-based dance troupe called Psychotic Mass, and has been coming to the event for over a decade. As a non-Caribbean Canadian who enjoys the festival, it still has a lot of meaning for her.

“I wasn’t even a part of this culture, and I feel like I’m so indulged in it that it’s like my own culture now,” Kamika explained. “It’s really just about loving, having fun, being wild on the road, and not caring what anybody thinks.”

The Caribbean Village, located in Churchill Square, will be open from noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. You can play a game of cards or dominoes while enjoying Soca, Reggae and Calypso music.

Kamisha, whose parents are from Grenada, knows Caribbean Canadians contribute to diversity and culture in Edmonton.

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“We bring the awesomeness,” she said. “We have good food, nice culture, and nice people. We share a lot of the same values as Canada. So bringing that all together just helps us be more diverse and more of a community.”

“It’s really, really fun. It’s really nice to be able to connect with your culture. Especially because I’m not from there. So this is a way of feeling at home without being at home.”

Local artists will be performing all day Sunday, and you can “Represent” by wearing the colours of your favourite Caribbean destination.

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