By Dwain Wellington Rattray
Pride Contributing Editor
AJAX, Ontario – On Monday, history was made, when Mayor Steve Parish proclaimed Ajax’s first Caribbean Week.
The evening was spearheaded by the Durham Caribbean Festival and arranged by the Caribbean Event Organization of Ontario (CEOO). Mayor Parish said it was indeed a pleasure to make the proclamation, noting the diverse landscape of Ajax in general and the strong Caribbean citizenry in particular.
According to the 2011 Canadian census, almost 40 percent of Ajax’s 109,600 citizens identify as a visible minority, with the largest group hailing from the Caribbean islands.
The mission of the CEOO (in part) is: “To bring awareness to the benefits of cultural differences, the issues behind racial profiling and misconceptions affiliated with diversity on all levels.”
Executive Director the CEOO, Mary Galvan, says, she, “feels a sense of pride, hearing the Mayor declare Caribbean week in Ajax.”
The official week will take place June 23, to June 30, 2014. Local and corporate business will host various events showcasing Caribbean inspired themes. Celebrations will feature a combination of events targeting the media, trade, consumers and the Caribbean Diaspora.
With an aim to celebrate the sights, sounds, colours, tastes, culture and unique vacation experiences of the Caribbean, the festival is set to thrill all in attendance.
One major staple of Caribbean culture is music and one staple of Caribbean music is Steel Pan, it is fitting that the week should begin on Monday with the TD Steel Pan Celebration at TD Canada Trust on Williamson Drive West. Day one will end with a JNBS Meet and Greet customer Appreciation at the Hilton Garden in Ajax.
Presenting Sponsor, JN Money Transfer Services (JN MS) will have giveaways at West Indian Pantry on Tuesday afternoon; followed by $10 off oil changes and free charging system tests from Kenco’s Car care Inc.
On Wednesday, JN MS will have more giveaways, now at Crys-Lee West Indian Market. Live entertainment, costumes and “lots of fun” will close out the day at OLG Slots, Ajax Downs.
Reflections Auto Detailing will provide $15 wash and vacuum on Thursday, while VanDusen Chevrolet Buick GMC will host a free barbeque and live entertainment that evening.
Taste buds and pockets are in for treat when DAM Caribbean Kitchen offers 50 percent discounts off jerk chicken lunches on Friday. The evening will see Caribbean Youth Open Mic at the Red Snapper.
Saturday will see a two-part Real Estate Seminar from JNBS, providing insight on Jamaica’s real estate investment opportunities. SKD Bilingual Child Care will host an Outside Anniversary Celebration Family Appreciation, while DAM Foods will host a Customer Appreciation Free Barbeque and 50 percent indoor specials.
These activities lead up to the Durham Caribbean Festival on Sunday June 29, 2014. All day, the Greenwood Conservation Area will come alive to stir all the senses, and be transformed into a slice of the Caribbean.
The festival celebrates and promotes diversity, while featuring vendors, food, live performances and entertainment. The day is planned with the distinct intent to transport patrons into a mindset of exploring and enjoying the vast tapestry that makes up the Caribbean experience.
Monday June 30 will signal the celebrations’ end, with a Caribbean Art Exhibit at Cultural Expressions, followed by the Caribbean Festival After Party at the Safari Bar and Grill.
Sponsors were quick to support the initiative of Galvan and become a part of this important endeavour. Paula Fennell, Manager of Business Development and Agent Coordination for Presenting Sponsor, Jamaica National Money Transfer Services (JN MS), says, “We have been involved (with the Durham Caribbean Festival) from the very beginning.” Fennell went on to point out that it is the practice of JN MS to, “support our people.”
Fitzroy Gordon, Founder of G98.7 FM—a sponsor of the event—remarks that the proclamation of Ajax Caribbean Week itself is, “Significant and historic; it shows that the government of the region is noticing the work of Caribbean people in the region.”
For more information about Ajax Caribbean Week and Durham Caribbean Festival, visit: www.durhamcaribbeanfestival.com or call (416)876-4679.