Carifiesta parade returns to downtown Montreal

·2 min read
Bionce Oliver came out with Desire Carnival, one of the carnival bands attending the parade Saturday.  (Sarah Leavitt/CBC - image credit)
Bionce Oliver came out with Desire Carnival, one of the carnival bands attending the parade Saturday. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC - image credit)

The colourful Carifiesta parade returned to downtown Montreal on Saturday after three years of celebrations being put off because of the pandemic.

The 45th edition of the parade down Saint-Catherine Street celebrating Caribbean culture almost didn't happen because of costs, but luckily organizers were able to scrape together enough to get three floats.

"Today is a cultural celebration," said Everiste Blaize, the president of Carifiesta Montreal.

"Carifiesta is a celebration of Caribbean history, emancipation from slavery. It's to symbolize our freedom."

With a lot of businesses looking for money up front and one of their grants only coming in after the parade, "everything is out of pocket right now," Blaize said.

"I'll cry tomorrow but for now I'm happy," he said, adding he's impressed with all the work the community has put in over recent days to make this happen.

Sarah Leavitt/CBC
Sarah Leavitt/CBC

It was Savannah Archer's first time attending the parade.

"This is part of our community. This is what we're about," said Archer, who came out with her mother.

"We need to have something to be happy about. This… this is happiness."

Her mother Melba said it's a relief to finally be able to let loose.

"We've been away from this way too long and I'm loving it, loving it, loving it, loving it, having the best time," she said, the pair decked out with bright feathers and jewels around their shoulders.

Bionce Oliver came out to represent her home island Saint Vincent, between Saint Lucia and Grenada in the Caribbean Sea.

Sarah Leavitt/CBC
Sarah Leavitt/CBC

"This is my heritage, this is my country, this is what we do. We love to party. We love to drink. We love to dance," she said.

"It's time for us to show off, to show why it should never be cancelled again."

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