The West Can’s Caribbean Carnival Exhibition on October 28 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote St Luc, Montreal, promises to be a monumental showcase of Caribbean Carnival arts, featuring costumes, pan, and calypsos. This vibrant event marks the culmination of the ten-month signature project titled “Carnival is… Mas… Movement… and Music,” initiated by the West Can Folk Performing Company.
The project was a comprehensive effort to revive and educate the Montreal community on the creation, appreciation, development, and enrichment of carnival arts. Pat Dillon Moore played a valuable role as a moderator, skillfully guiding numerous workshops and panel discussions, enriching the participants’ experiences. Through workshops, panel discussions, and classes, participants of all ages delved into various aspects of this rich and vibrant cultural phenomenon. The project began with a panel discussion on the roots of carnival, featuring knowledge keepers and experts such as Aldo Guizmo, Tanisha Collins, Anne Janice Farray, Kay Thellot, Marvin George from Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica’s Dr. Lileith Nelson, highlighting the historical and cultural continuity of carnival practices from Africa to the Caribbean islands.
Hands-on workshops led by master artisans, including Walter Elliot and fashion designer Michele Jean Jacques, provided participants with insights into costume design. Anderson Ramirez led several workshops on wire bending for backpacks and wire bras, and the intricacies of creating carnival pieces.
Roots Cultural Association founder Stephen Payne was on-hand for many workshops, including a workshop with Toronto’s Louis Saldenah, conducted a workshop for aspiring bandleaders, like Rayne Carnival and Carnival Freaks covering elements of running a band, a mas camp, choosing themes, putting a band together, and budgeting.
Calypso writing sessions featured Trinidad and Tobago’s Edwin Ayoung (Crazy), and newcomer Shernifa Gibbs (Sexy Starr), along with Montreal/Grenada’s Byron Cameron (Doggies).
Dance workshops by Dr. Anthony Prime Guerra focused on traditional carnival characters, offering participants a comprehensive understanding of the historical and cultural significance behind the movements of Fancy Sailor, Dame Lorraine and Jab Jab.
A significant panel on the history of steelpan in Trinidad, presented by panmen including the late Egbert Gaye, James Andrews, Dr. Salah Wilson, and Martin Albino, highlighted the impact of Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument on the Montreal Caribbean Community. Resulting in the creation of a pan yard at 7419 Harley Street, with close to 35 new students practicing three times a week.
The project, fostered inter-generational collaboration, forming new relationships throughout the diaspora and creating a sense of Caribbean artistic unity and purpose.
The success of “Carnival Is… Mas… Movement… and Music” is crucial for the continued growth of West Can over the next 40 years, requiring ongoing support from Montrealers. The renewed spirit among West Can’s administrators, including Artistic Director Shiata Lewis- Rouse and President Melika Forde, is indicative of the project’s positive impact on the community.
The Carnival Exhibition is an opportunity for the community to celebrate the outcomes of months of study and to support the continuation of this rare and impactful project. The renewed spirit among West Can’s administrators and leaders, along with Pat Dillion Moore’s significant role, indicates a positive trajectory for the future of Caribbean Carnival arts in Montreal.
Join us on October 28 to witness and support this vibrant celebration of Caribbean culture and artistic expression.