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Edmonton's Cariwest brings Caribbean get together of wonderful music and meals

“That is an Edmonton competition. Completely you might be within the parade — we would like you to be within the parade!”

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With Edmonton’s last-standing parade dancing down Jasper Avenue this Saturday, the Cariwest procession will as soon as once more show its distinctive cultural worth and attract with terrific vibrancy, color and noise.

Some 800 enthusiastic contributors in 16 bedazzled teams often called bands — many in competitors in a number of classes — will shimmy and shake the 1.7 km transferring masquerade making its musical approach from the Legislature to Churchill Sq..

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The parade, which 25,000 folks watched final yr after the pandemic bottleneck, begins at midday, ending about 2.5 hours later on the residence base of Edmonton’s writhing and smiling Caribbean Arts Competition, which serves up scrumptious meals and “soul of calypso” soca music into the night time, Friday by way of Sunday in Churchill. Some 45,000 folks wandered the meals vans, stay music and costume competitions in 2022.

Like final yr, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi will likely be main the procession of the assorted themed bands, with all of the civilian joiners — this contains you, if you happen to like — within the “Individuals’s Band,” mentioning the rear.

“It’s a type of euphoria you get whenever you’re on the road and also you’re parading and also you’re dancing and also you don’t care what folks consider you,” explains Cariwest’s social media professional Nadia Goodhart, whose eight-year-old daughter is becoming a member of the parade for the primary time this yr. “As Bob Marley mentioned, ‘Free your self from psychological slavery’ — it’s that type of factor. Whether or not you’re within the parade or watching the music afterwards, you’re there as part of a celebration.”

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The Cariwest Parade dances from the Legislature Constructing to Churchill Sq., the place the competition takes place all weekend. Picture by David Bloom /Postmedia

The competition’s roots return centuries to precise slavery and its finish, as Cariwest president Samantha Alexander notes.

“You’d have these slave house owners having lavish masquerade balls,” she explains, “after which upon Emancipation, free slaves reworked the occasions into what we see now as Carnival. So it’s a celebration of being free, having fun with your self, however not forgetting that historical past.

“I do know we have now a mission assertion,” Alexander laughs considering Cariwest’s identification, “however actually, when this competition began 39 years in the past, it was about these first Caribbean settlers who got here to Edmonton and needed to maintain their tradition alive on this new setting.

“We moved right here, we’re Canadian, however let’s not overlook our roots.”

Moreover music and dance, one of many most important elements of any cultural identification whether or not Jamaican, Dominican or in any other case is, after all, meals.

This yr, Cariwest’s Caribbean Village territory on Churchill Sq. has expanded to incorporate a blocked-off 100 Avenue permitting the 20 meals distributors to unfold out from 99Avenue — mainly the identical footprint as Style of Edmonton.

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“It will assist alleviate a number of the congestions within the lineups we’ve skilled,” says Alexander. “After which we’ve licensed the entire space, in order that’s new for us, too.

There will likely be extra Caribbean meals distributors this yr than final, and Alexander presents a couple of suggestions.

“There’s at all times the meat patties — that’s a staple you may in all probability discover at each single Caribbean vendor,” she laughs. “For myself, it’s roti, that’s what I’ll be searching for out. And doubles — I don’t need to say it’s a mini model of roti, but it surely type of form of is.”

A listing of the distributors, together with non-food retailers promoting every thing from crafts to clothes to hair and sweetness equipment, is on the Caribbean Village button at

This brings us to the ever-bumping music enjoying all weekend, together with two worldwide acts Saturday night time, freed from cost, at 7 p.m. in Churchill. Trinidad and Tobego singer-songwriter Mical Teja — try his hipshaker Corridor of Fame — will likely be performing together with soca artist Shal Marshall, beloved worldwide for his 2019 hit Splinters.

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“Soca is the staple, the music you’ll hear at Carnival time,” Alexander explains, “and Mical has extra of an Afrobeats, soca-infused fashion.

“After which we’ve acquired Alison Hinds acting at our Saturday night time get together, which we name a fête, and she or he’s been round for generations so we count on that to be jam-packed.”

British-born, Barbados-based Hinds’ live performance, dubbed Island Rave 2023, occurs offsite at Union Corridor (6240 99 St.), $50 tickets out there at DJ Brandan Duke & Keesh! open up and the handbill delightfully guarantees “80% soca, 20% reggae, 100% vibes.”

“Hinds carried out for us for our 2020 digital competition, and so she’s coming again and who is aware of,” Alexander says coyly, “she may make a visitor look Saturday on stage on the Caribbean Village stage.”

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Nearer-to-home acts embody the reggae-leaning Saint and the Full 100 Band, Calgary Caribbean DJ Sherman Hype, veteran native retro-soca ensemble iLand Band, and Juno-nominated folk-dancehall act Excessive Life Trio.

Once more, see for the complete performer lineup and schedules that winds up at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with “Pan within the Sq.” that includes three metal drum orchestras, then the ’90s Yard Jam from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Additionally of be aware, there’s loads of specialised programming within the Cariwest Kidz Zone from 12:30 – 6 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve acquired workshops the place they will study drumming, do face portray and we’ve acquired a Moko Jumbie workshop — these are the stilt walkers,” says Alexander. “It’s superior and retains getting higher.”

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This yr’s Cariwest Parade begins at midday Saturday on the Legislature. Picture by David Bloom /Postmedia

Subsequent yr is the competition’s fortieth anniversary, and Goodhart presents an open invite to correctly take part, past leaping within the Individuals’s Band on the tail finish of the parade with your individual glitter and a few feathers.

“That is one thing that we would like you to be concerned in,” she says, stressing everyone seems to be welcome to affix a mas (masquerade) band with correct preparation and the price of supplies in full regalia. “So if you happen to assume you need to make a fancy dress, these do take time to construct and match.”

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The organizers begin planning subsequent yr as quickly as the present fest ends, Goodhart notes, so to get the ball rolling, head to, click on on one which appeals to you and ship an electronic mail saying you need to be a part of within the enjoyable whether or not it’s with the tropical-bird-vibed Unruly Islanders group or the metal-viking trying Jib Jab Mas.

And don’t fear, you don’t must have Caribbean roots to be within the parade correct, and each physique sort is welcome.

“I’m East Indian, my husband’s white and our children are blended,” says Goodhart. “That is an Edmonton competition. Completely you might be within the parade — we would like you to be within the parade!

“We wish you to expertise that pleasure!”


Cariwest 2023

The place Churchill Sq.

When Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. ; Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Admission Free

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