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Caribbean carnival returns to Montreal streets – Montreal

Thousands of spectators lined Rene Levesque Boulevard on Saturday afternoon to witness the return of the Caribbean carnival parade, one year after it was cancelled.

The Carimas Parade was about an hour late getting started but once it got going spectators like Charlotte Callender refused to stand still, dancing to music blaring from floats followed by dancers in various costumes.

“I’m really happy to see it back,” she laughed. “I’m so happy.”

The parade moved west from Saint-Laurent Boulevard along René Lévesque Boulevard to Peel Street at Place du Canada for Carimas Sizzle to cool down after the parade, enjoy food and live music. Both events capped the month-long Carimas Festival showcasing Caribbean culture.

Previously, the parade was called Carifete. It was cancelled last year after the city denied formers organizers a permit citing governance concerns. Ericka Alneus, the city’s Executive Committee member responsible for culture said she understands the resulting disappointment among Montreal’s Caribbean communities.

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“We wanted to make sure all things were there to make the organization was capable of delivering such an event,” she told Global News while marching in Saturday’s parade.

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A new organization, the Caribbean Coalition Network of Montreal (CCNM) — a group of associations representing different Caribbean islands — took over. Coalition member and president of the Barbados House Montreal, Cynthia Waithe, said the group had about 12 weeks to put on the parade as well as other festival activities.

“A lot of hard work, starting our days at 4 o clock in the morning,” she noted. “Working our day jobs as well and working with the city, working with all the volunteers, the bands were fantastic.”

Waithe noted that despite numerous challenges, they were able to pull off the festival with the help of various groups. Callender is grateful.

“You know, I think it’s a great opportunity for us of Caribbean descent to come together and show the city that we’re here to have a good time,” she argued. “I’m so happy right now to see this collaboration.”

For some like spectator Ryan Payne, with roots in Barbados, the parade is about passing on traditions to his kids to help them learn about their culture.

“We don’t go travel to the Caribbean very often so, seeing this, is as close as we can get for now, so we’re really happy to have it,” he explained.

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According to Callender the parade was another way for the city to show and acknowledge its diversity.

“We’re here. We’ve been here,” she stressed. “Not everybody knows it and we’re part of this city.”

Alneus agrees and believes the city needed the parade.

“This is what makes us rich,” she argued. “Being on this island from different backgrounds, celebrating and sharing.”

Despite the merrymaking, the deadly hurricane, Beryl, that devastated some Caribbean islands earlier in the week was also on some people’s mind, and believe Saturday’s gathering served to provide mutual support for those who needed it.

“It’s an opportunity for us to rally together to talk together to understand what we value, what’s important,” Payne reasoned.

To support people hit by the hurricane, organizers collected funds at the event. It’s just one more example, Payne believes, of how collaboration can bear fruit.


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