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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.