Torys recognizes Caribbean Carnival events

July 28, 2014

At Torys, we view diversity as a core strength of the firm, and we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our practice and community involvement. This month, the Diversity Committee is proud to recognize Caribbean Carnival events on varying dates across our cities. Carifiesta was held July 5-7, 2014 in Montréal, the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival takes place over the August Civic Holiday weekend, Carifest Parade and Sunshine Festival will be held in Calgary on August 23, and the West Indian-American Day Parade & Carnival takes place in Brooklyn over the Labor Day weekend.

Carnival is a proud tradition in many countries across the world. Historically, Carnival was a pagan festival later adopted by the Catholic church as the festival of Carne Vale. Carne vale, which means “to put away meat”, referred to the giving up of meat for Lent. Carnival, as it became known, was popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th century and came to the Americas with European colonists. At that time, large numbers of African people were brought to the Caribbean and the Americas by European slave traders. Enslaved African people were banned from the festivities of the colonists and held their own festivities inspired by European masquerade balls incorporating the rituals, folklore and culture of their African heritage. With the abolition of slavery in the 19th century, the festivities became a celebration of freedom.

Carnival was introduced in Canada and the U.S. in the 1960’s by immigrants from the Caribbean. It is a jovial and inclusive celebration featuring live music, food, art displays, parade floats, theatrical performances, Junior Carnival, and steel pan competitions. Troupes of masquerade dancers, referred to as “Mas bands”, wear theme-based costumes with colourful and dynamic designs. The construction of the elaborate costumes begins soon after the previous year’s celebration and can take up to a year to complete. For those of you participating in or attending the various events across our cities, Happy Carnival!

For those of you participating in or attending the various events across our cities, Happy Carnival!

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