New CARIMAS Festival Promises Fresh Energy

New CARIMAS  Festival Promises Fresh Energy

Montreal's Caribbean Parade Reborn:

After being canceled last year due to funding challenges, Montreal’s famed Caribbean parade, previously known as Carifiesta, is set to return this summer under a new name and with renewed vigor. Marking 50 years since the first parade in Montreal, this year’s festival, dubbed CARIMAS, is organized by the Caribbean Coalition Network of Montréal (CCNM). The CCNM comprises various cultural associations representing the Caribbean diaspora in Montreal. United in their mission, these groups are committed to fostering collaboration, empowerment, and cultural preservation among Caribbean communities in the city.
The festival will kick off on June 9 with a series of culturally rich events scheduled throughout the summer. CARIMAS will commence with two beauty pageants: the first for pre-teens on June 9, and the second for teens and young adults on June 22. Additionally, a special day for children, Petit Carimas, will take place on June 29. The grand celebration will continue on July 6 with a vibrant street parade, culminating in the festive Carimas Sizzle later that evening.
Jason Forbes, president of the YUL Cultural Association, promises an electrifying experience. “Expect a lot of energy, vibrance, colors, and costumes,” Forbes said during a press conference.
In a bid to expand the festival’s reach, Forbes adds, “This year, we’re inviting members from the African community. We’ve always had the Haitian community involved, so we’re definitely going to be bringing three groups from the Haitian community to be involved this year. We’re also looking at the Chinese community to bring some of their dragons and showcase that on the road as well.”
The CARIMAS Festival builds on a rich yet challenging history. Born out of Montreal’s Trinidad and Tobago carnival roots, the parade has embraced influences from all over the Caribbean, including English, French, and Spanish-speaking regions. The event began as an anniversary celebration at Union United Church in 1974 and later became an independent organization. It went through various community groups before becoming the Carifiesta Parade, but its journey hasn’t been without turbulence.
Last year’s parade cancellation, following a $30,000 funding rejection from the City of Montreal, sparked community outrage. City Councillor Alneus noted that Carifiesta organizers did not meet the revised criteria for funding. Despite the setback, the CCNM secured a $30,000 grant from the City of Montreal for this year’s event, and the community is rallying to ensure CARIMAS’s triumphant return.
Despite the vibrant plans, the festival’s organizers face financial hurdles. They have launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of $75,000 needed to support the elaborate costumes and floats, as well as initiatives for youth involvement, accessibility, and community outreach. “Going forward for the next five years, we’ll be reinvesting in the carnival to ensure we don’t face such financial challenges again,” states Laura Waithe from the CCNM.
In a statement, the CCNM expressed their gratitude for early donations. “We’re thrilled to announce that thanks to your incredible generosity, we’ve surpassed the $1,000 mark in donations! We hope to have a minimum of 740 people in Montreal and beyond to give $100 to meet our goal by our target date – Monday, May 20 – Victoria Day.”
Many who remember Montreal’s Parade from its glory days are optimistic that this new start will not just match its historical highs but exceed them, offering a fresh and inclusive experience. Montrealers and visitors are invited to participate in this reinvigorated cultural celebration, ensuring its success and continuity.