Officers, Youth Fly Caribbean Colours

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 7:24 p.m. July 12, 2014
Updated: 4:43 p.m. July 14, 2014

Over 150 young participants, in vibrant costumes and elaborate head gear marched together as part of the Caribana Flags and Colours Parade and Carnival at Yorkgate Mall July 12.

Four young girls in bright blue costumes pose with a female police constable.
Police Constable Jennifer Dekezel from 54 Division with girls from the mentor group Girlz will be Girlz. The young women partnered with the TPS for the parade, their costumes were designed and made by TPS member Sherene Jattan.

The event, often called Junior Caribana, was fully supported by 31 Division officers, who helped provide resources for the annual youth-based event.

Constables, along with Auxiliary officers and YIPI (Youth In Policing Initiative) students came together to ensure the parade and carnival went off smoothly.

The event, which was attended by close to 400 people, also had some Toronto Police representation in the parade itself. Youth from the local community partnered with 31 Division and the Girlz will be Girlz mentor group, run by Constable Jennifer Dekezel from 54 Division, to don the Toronto Police emblem. 

“When I asked the girls if they would like to take part in this parade, there was no hesitation on their part,” said Dekezel, who grew up with foster parents in a rural Manitoba town, before discovering her Trinidad & Tobago roots when meeting her biological mother two decades ago. “They jumped at the opportunity to come out here and celebrate.”

Their costumes were designed and assembled by Sherene Jattan, of Diversity Management, who applauded the presence of the officers who joined in the annual celebration.

“Although the costumes are the same colour coordination, they are slightly different,” Jattan said. “They represent humans who are the same on the outside, but who possess something unique on the inside. I think it’s perfect that these kids have the opportunity to come out and have some fun for the day.”

An extreme close-up shot of a young girl in an elaborate and colourful costume smiling.
A parade participant looks on as people dance at the Flags and Colours Parade and Carnival at Yorkgate Mall near Jane and Finch.

It’s fantastic when the community comes together, and it is especially gratifying when it is in support of our local youth

For other officers, it was about the community participation in the event.

“It’s fantastic when the community comes together, and it is especially gratifying when it is in support of our local youth” said Inspector Riyaz Hussein, of 31 Division.

For Recruiting officer Constable Milton Ferguson it was a good time to connect with the community.

“They just love having us in the community and they especially love the trinkets,” he said, pointing to the TPS car magnets, which had been attracting many young children to the table.


Four young people stand in a parking lot with an Police Inspector in uniform.
YIPIs from 31 Division assisted with the set-up and take down of the central gathering location. Here they pose with Inspector Riyaz Hussein of the same division. (L-R) Nuradin Mohamed-Nur, Radwan Yare, Cindy Teju, Arwa Murshid and Inspector Riyaz Hussein
Two Toronto Police Officers pose with two young boys in costumes. The officer on the far right is giving a thumbs up towards the camera.
Recruiting Officers Milton Ferguson (L) and Jason Gill (R) were more than happy to take a photo with young admirers Kwesi and Kofi Colemen (L and R).

Former Caribana Arts Group Chair Henry Gomez publicly acknowledged the police’s presence.

“Superintendent Tony Riviere, Inspector Riyaz Hussein and the rest of the officers at 31 Division have shown they are willing to work with us and the community to enhance police-community relations,” said Gomez. “We appreciate what they are doing and what the rest of the organization has done to be part of our festival.”

As the event wrapped up, organizers went on stage to thanks supporters and sponsors,

“Let’s give it up for 31 Division for their tremendous work in the community (and) making things happen,” the crowd cheered loudly in agreement.


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