Let’s talk about the unmitigated disaster that was Toronto Carnival’s Grand Parade 2015.
The parade started off the way it always does. Beautiful carnival costumes filled the CNE grounds and DJs played the same 5 songs over and over. The parade ended the same way it did last year. Stormers flooded the route and forced masqueraders off the road, mass confusion took over and women were assaulted, molested and harassed.
What makes this year’s parade so bad was the concerted efforts of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) and crony “associations” to consciously and definitively freeze the community out of parade. Their double fences said to all with eyes, “You are not welcome”. The route change, which was not communicated effectively to the masses said, “We don’t want you here”. We are, in effect, being marginalised by our own people. Shame FMC. Shame Denise Herrera-Jackson. Shame Chris Alexander.
With your double fences you herd masqueraders like cattle and make money off of our misery. You cage in the women and then leave us to be violated and assaulted with no hope for escape and not a police officer in sight. And then when we speak out, you further victimize us by asking “Well did you report it to the police?” Shame on all of you who remained silent. Shame on everyone who was busy getting ready to fete at Cabana Pool bar, too busy to make a statement condemning the assaults and violations that happened at Toronto Carnival Grand Parade. Our women are being molested, assaulted, violated and you don’t have a minute to speak up? Shame. FMC, band leaders, where is your press release condemning the assaults of women at your parade? SHAME SHAME SHAME!
Men caught taking creep shots at Toronto’s Carnival parade
Sexual harassment accusations no surprise to Caribbean Carnival participants
To the FMC who orchestrated the parade route change and never bothered to make a genuine effort to share this information with our people, I say: Shame on you. The FMC has 3 PR people working for them. Are you telling me that no one could develop and execute an effective
campaign to let the community know about the route change? Instead, you leave our community on the side of the road. Whole families, individual spectators waiting for a parade that is never going to arrive.
Some parade viewers surprised by Carnival route changes
And let’s be clear, the FMC did not make the decision to disenfranchise and oppress the community by themselves. Individuals and the favoured few who are invited to attend the City Liaison Committee meetings were well aware of the plans for double fencing and the route changes. To all “associations”, groups and individuals who sat in the official planning meetings and okay-ed these plans, I say, Shame on you! To the phony community representatives who sit on this committee I say, Shame on you. No one who truly represents the Caribbean Community would ever agree to a plan that disrespects the community in this way.
To the Stormers and fence breakers who willfully harassed and assaulted women, who knowingly destroyed property, who boasted on Twitter and your blogs about how you look forward to breaking down the fences and invading the parade. SHAME SHAME SHAME.
To the Police, you cannot effectively secure the grand parade. It is a disaster and you are putting people’s lives at risk. Stop granting licences to the Toronto Carnival Grand Parade as produced by the FMC.
To Councillor Joe Mihevc, you tried your best. Now please look at the evidence in front of you. The FMC is incapable of producing a safe Toronto Carnival parade. The police are incapable of securing that thing that the FMC calls a Grand Parade. I am no longer able to support the use of taxpayer money to fund the Toronto Carnival Parade as produced by the FMC. I mean, their Grand Parade Operations Manager, Calvin Harris has no experience producing a parade! He’s a salesman who once threw a party in 1986. And tax payers helped pay his salary to produce Toronto Carnival Grand Parade 2015. I’m sure he laughed all the way to the bank. Please Councillor Mihevc, tell me this is not a waste of tax payer money!
Councillor Mihevc, stop giving the FMC money to produce the Toronto Carnival Grand Parade. I support the continued funding of Kings and Queens, Kiddies Carnival, Calypso Competition and Pan competition. When the time comes to fund the Toronto Carnival Grand Parade, don't give the money to the FMC. Give the money to an organisation that actually has the skills and knowledge to stage a parade of this magnitude. We need to have a Grand Parade but we need it to be run by people who can do it right and that isn't the FMC.
As a peruse social media, I have noted that some members of the community are using the “Emperor’s New Clothes” tactics whereby they try to convince us that this was the best grand parade to date. To you I say, no one is fooled. Just because you have been “to the islands” a few times and you can google www.nalis.gov.tt
does not mean you know anything about the culture. What we experienced on Saturday at the Toronto Carnival Grand Parade was not our culture. It was an exercise in marginalisation and disrespect perpetuated by those who only pretend to have respect for the culture. To all who will not speak up about the issues that are plaguing the festival, it is you who are destroying the festival, not me.
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