Photography Othello Grey

celebrating caribbean-canadian culture at caribana

"I’m unabashedly Jamaican, 365 days a year, but it’s the one day I can really wild out about it and feel the sense of community amongst all these different people in Toronto."

by i-D Staff
|
12 August 2019, 2:40pm

Photography Othello Grey

Every year, somewhere between July and August, the entirety of downtown Toronto is transformed into a wonderland for its annual Caribana festival. Millions take to the streets of the Canadian city, decked out in headresses, bejewelled bikinis and feathers for North America's largest street festival. Attended by around two million people every year, Caribana was one of the world's first Caribbean Carnivals -- along with huge events in Boston, NYC and Notting Hill -- and since its inception in 1967 has become more than just a party... although it's also a pretty great party.

Caribana is a celebration of Afro-Caribbean and Canadian identity. Here, we caught up with a few attendees, to discuss the significance and the beauty of the festival.

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Kyrah, 25, retail merchandiser

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? It’s a real stew of different people, its one of the few cities where everyone connects, there's less separation between the different subcultures. Why is Caribana important to you? I’m unabashedly Jamaican, 365 days a year but it’s the one day I can really wild out about it and feel the sense of community amongst all these different people from all these different walks of life in Toronto. What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? In the summer, take the trek out to the Scarborough Bluffs and find that sweet little hidden spot that looks like Tulum.

02-Christa

Christa, 22, marketing student

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? It’s a big city and very multicultural so you get to meet a lot of different amazing people. There are a lot of opportunities for networking, it’s so different from other places, I love that. Why is Caribana important to you? It celebrates a beautiful culture, it brings black people together -- we’re African, we’re not even Caribbean and we love this. How would you describe the Caribana experience? Crazy, fun, entertaining.

03-Tug

Yung Tug, 23, musician

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? The freedom that you have. There are a lot of opportunities out here for all the young folk in Toronto. Just mark my words, the best thing out of Toronto is the youth. Why is Caribana important to you? Because it brings the city together fam. How would you describe the Caribana experience? You need to come experience it to know what it's about, I can’t really put it into words. What are biggest issues affecting young people in Toronto and wider Canada? Not having enough backing in the arts. Everybody in Toronto wants to make something of themselves and do better for themselves but there aren’t enough platforms or backing here to help push ourselves further.

04-TJ

TJ, 25, animal tech

What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? Come to Caribana! You have to!

05-Vanessa

Vanessa, 16, student

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? You can live your best life while being free, pretty much. Why is Caribana important to you? It shows the importance of our culture and how we celebrate it in a very fun way. What are biggest issues affecting young people in Toronto and wider Canada? The Ford government. He needs to go. What are you passionate about? Definitely my culture, letting everyone know where I’m from and that I’m proud of it.

06-Khalid

Prospect Mundo, 24, singer

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? You have the freedom of creativity. I fuck with the metrosexual, the flamboyant energy. Why is Caribana important to you? It’s a culture, it’s our time, we need our moment. It’s all good vibes, the whole community comes together and has a good time. What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? You’ve got to go to King Street, that's where everybody is, that's the city. We’re a tight-packed community, you come to King Street... you’ll see what Toronto is. And if they accept you, they accept you. If they don’t, then you weren’t it. What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about music and loving my people, you know? I love all my brothers and all my sisters to the end, we make the culture what it is. We made Gucci poppin’, we made Louis poppin’, so we’re it, we just don’t know our value, we don’t know our worth but we are the culture.

07-Anita

Anita, 20, retail worker

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? You meet a lot of people, you have fun. This city is made for diversity and for everyone to experience different things. Why is Caribana important to you? It’s important because we’re celebrating all the Caribbean countries, all the islands around the world. You get to bring people together, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, we’re all just having fun. How would you describe the Caribana experience? It’s crazy! It’s fun! It’s amazing honestly! What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? Go to the OVO Fest! Go to Caribana! Try everything, go out, have fun and meet new people.

08-Maria

Maria, 24

Why is Caribana important to you? It’s a chance to really express my culture. I get to be myself and be around a large group of people from the same culture. How would you describe the Caribana experience? It’s unforgettable. It's something you have to engage in at least once in your lifetime. I’ll definitely be here again, it’s just an amazing feeling being around all this culture and likeminded people. I love it. What are biggest issues affecting young people in Toronto and wider Canada? One of the biggest issues is the cost of living, it is really expensive out here! I want to save up for a house but lord knows I wouldn’t be able to buy a house unless it's two hours out of the city.

09-Tianna

Tianna, 26

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? Being young and free. It’s so diverse here in Canada so it’s cool to be able to be free. Obviously racism is everywhere but in Canada... all cultures are mixed together, so it’s cool. Why is Caribana important to you? I’m of Jamaican decent, this is my culture right here. All the islands coming together to represent, to show what we’re about, black people as a whole, we have a name for ourselves. This is us showing people we have something to us. What are biggest issues affecting young people in Toronto and wider Canada? The rent! It’s so hard to live in Toronto. The government needs to get it together when it comes to making sure people have somewhere to live. What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about art, I’m passionate about my culture, I’m passionate about my friends, my family, living life to the fullest. Making sure I live my life right before I get old as hell.

10-Nyandeng

Nyandeng, 21, fashion and business student

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? There are so many opportunities to be an entrepreneur. How would you describe the Caribana experience? Very unique. What are biggest issues affecting young people in Toronto and wider Canada? Violence. What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? Visit downtown. What are you passionate about? Fashion.

11-Evaline

Evaline, 25, youth worker

What's the best thing about being young in Toronto? There are a lot of parties. Why is Caribana important to you? It’s fun, I love Soca music and you see a lot of black people gathered together, that's the best part. You can be yourself, dance the way you want to dance, dress the way you want to dress, no one is going to judge you. You can be yourself and you get to meet a lot of different people. How would you describe the Caribana experience? It’s welcoming. Toronto itself is very multicultural but coming to Caribana you get to be among other black people without any judgement. What are you passionate about? Inclusivity, meeting new people, not feeling like you’re being judged.

12-Chantal

Chantal, 25, student

Why is Caribana important to you? Actually this is my first time coming, I wanted to see what it was like, and it's so much fun. The people, the music, it was really nice. It connects people. What are the things you'd tell someone visiting Toronto they should definitely do? Well, go to the beach, go to the island, obviously Caribana and the clubs are amazing.


Credits

Photography Othello Grey

Tagged:
Canada
Toronto
CARIBBEAN
carnival
caribana
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