The courtyard of police headquarters came alive with the colours and sounds of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival celebration in a preview of what’s to come during the festival that culminates in a parade at Exhibition Grounds August 5.
Mayor John Tory said the annual celebration at police headquarters highlights the Service’s commitment to the Carnival and its importance to the city.
“The thing about this parade and other parades is that they draw people together to celebrate some aspect of life in Toronto,” he said. “The people who are drawn together are not all Irish (on St. Patrick’s Day) or people from the LBGTQ community on Pride Day. The same is true when it comes to the Caribbean Carnival. It’s a fun event, but is serves a purpose more than that, more than all the tourism that it draws to the city and all the people it brings here to contribute to our economy and put Toronto on the map. It is a place where we can celebrate together the presence of such a huge and growing Caribbean community.”
Toronto Police Services Board member Ken Jeffers said the Carnival is a celebration of the vitality, richness and the kaleidoscope of that is Toronto.
“The powerful and unifying spirit of this festival can be felt throughout this city reverberating through all of our neighbourhoods,” said Jeffers.
The theme of this year’s event is ‘Time, Looking Back, Moving Forward’.
“This year’s theme reminds us that we should consider recognizing our history, both positive and negative,” said Jeffers. “We acknowledge challenges, but this is also a time of hope, of learning and of teaching…Events like this reminds us there is more that unites us than divides us and I encourage you to search for ways to resolve differences peacefully and in the spirit of partnership.”
Chief Mark Saunders also took the opportunity to honour two community members who help police each year during the Carnival festivities. Ronit Keith and Angela Han of the nearby Marriott Courtyard were recognized for assisting officers with meals and a place to rest during the long Toronto Caribbean Carnival weekend.
Keith, who is the general manager, has provided a ‘down’ room for first responders who require a place to be away from the carnival activities in the downtown area before returning to their duties while Han made sure officers had a place to rest, grab a warm meal and cool down before returning to their duties.
“The success of events like this is based on the contributions of volunteers,” he said. “What make this city great is not just inclusion and the fact that we understand diversity. It’s about the large amount of people who give back to help.”
Toronto Caribbean Carnival chief operating officer Chris Alexander thanked the Service for its participation in the annual parade.
Young revellers from the Children’s Breakfast Club wearing costumes designed by Service member Sherene Jattan and Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) members took part in the kick-off organized by Constable Isabelle Cotton as well as the organizing committee: Sergeants Chris Gordon and Rod Chung, Constable Cinderella Chung and Sherene Jattan.