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Demand Change for Toronto Caribbean Carnival

This petition had 1,258 supporters

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly Caribana) is a festival of culture, music, food and dance that serves as the anchor of Toronto's summer calendar every year. The festival, which culminates in the Grand Parade, attracts over a million people – both visitors and Torontonians alike -  and garners international attention, contributing to our brand as an exciting, diverse and culturally vibrant city.

As both patrons that have attended many of the various large scale events put on by the festival, such as the King and Queen Competition, as well as masqueraders who have participated in the Grand Parade for the better part of 20 years, it saddens us to see the decline of the festival we love as it heads into its 50th year milestone.

The Festival Management Committee (FMC), the governing body that runs the festival, has been repeatedly called upon to address the issues of security and public safety caused by the non-masqueraders that continually bombard the parade route as it exits the Exhibition Grounds and progresses onto Lakeshore Blvd.  Pleas from the Toronto Mas Bands Association (TMBA), Toronto Masqueraders Association (TMA), and Ontario Steel Pan Association (OSA), for the FMC to step up and address the problems have all gone completely unanswered, and solutions put forth have failed to make any meaningful impact.

Year after year, artists put countless VOLUNTEER hours of their time into creating and constructing the beautiful costumes for the masqueraders who spend hundreds of their hard earned dollars to portray these costumes proudly. Spectators who come from far and wide rightfully expect to be able to view the beautiful spectacle that is our mas: to watch us dance and revel in our culture. But, instead, they bear witness to our costumes being destroyed and our people being assaulted and disrespected by the thousands of non-masqueraders invading the parade route.

The ‘Caribana’ Grand Parade has been run annually since 1967, when it was first displayed as a gift from Canada's West Indian community in tribute to Canada's Centennial.  On the verge of its 50th anniversary we, the people, deserve to have our gift honoured and respected.

The FMC’s failings in doing so have led us to write this petition to call on the City of Toronto to replace them with a new governing body: one that is comprised of true stakeholders who understand and value the significance of the Carnival festival to the people of Toronto and places the safety of its patrons - be they vendors, masqueraders, mas band leaders, musicians, or spectators - above the almighty dollar.

We need a governing body willing to work with the community to encourage the media to stop referring to our parade as a "street party" and, instead use the proper terminology to educate the public on what this festival is truly about and what the role of a spectator should be.

We need a governing body willing to work openly with the City, Police, and Community Stakeholders, so that there is a measure of transparency in how the funds are managed.

We need a governing body who is not willing to settle for the passive police presence and hands-off mentality we've seen in years past. We need leadership willing to demand that there not only be paid security manning the parade route, but that that security be backed and supported by Toronto police to effectively provide the crowd control so desperately needed.  

We need a governing body willing to represent our community to actively seek sponsorship and contributions from the Ministry of Arts and Culture, as well as the tourism industry who make millions off of the influx in people our city receives, but but who have yet to re-invest a dime back into the festival that creates the appeal.

We need Change for Toronto Caribbean Carnival. Change from the top down.

In absence of such change, we truly fear that August long weekend will soon become just another long weekend in the city of Toronto. No vibrance. No music. No energy. No beautiful costumes parading their way along the road. Instead, it will be just another excuse to sit in traffic as we all exit the city limits, taking our hard earned dollars to cottage country.

If you, too, believe that our beloved Toronto Caribbean Carnival is dying due to the FMC's mismanagement, then please join us in asking the City of Toronto & the Province of Ontario to effect change on our behalf.  A few voices alone may not have an impact, but if we all speak up together in a show of strength and unity, our voices can and will be heard!

Today: Change for Toronto Caribbean Carnival is counting on you

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