- Soca 2018! -

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Off the road campaign

I pulled this from Facebook, it's a post written by Sophia Rickson, Savage Arts International Ltd.

Its called the Off the road campaign:

In the wake of all the violence plaguing our city. I feel compelled to ask for help from our community and the City of Toronto to keep the violence out of our annual Caribbean parade.

The biggest, and most ignored issue leading to violence, are non-masqueraders on the road with paying participants. They are always the perpetrators of disrespectful acts toward people in costume and spectators alike.

Every year disrespectful thugs harass female masqueraders and males alike. Costumes that cost thousands of dollars are destroyed by non-masqueraders that have no respect for the culture they come from and for the people who produce these beautiful works of art.

The costumes are not seen or appreciated and this is because of people who refuse to participate but feel they have equal right to the limited space the Lakeshore provides.

We need to stand together, to show that we respect and love our culture and each other enough, to make sure the people who are involved in any criminal activity or have any other intention other than enjoying the costumes and food, remain off the streets and out of our parade.

Every year, acts of violence as serious as shootings, fights, inappropriate touching and behaviour, slanderous comments and arguments, occur on the road, and it is always involves non-masqueraders. Toronto Police are not taught or not told to differentiate between masqueraders and non-masqueraders when exiting and entering the Lakeshore (parade route).

They, like many others are unaware that people who participate in the parade, spend a lot of money to do so. Masqueraders spend from $200/$300 to $5000/$6000 to participate. Bandleaders spend upward of $40,000 for small bands into the hundreds of thousands to produce larger ones.

Production begins immediately after summer and the effort and passion put into these costumes go unappreciated every year. Either they are not seen by spectators and/or damaged by non-masqueraders.

Spectators nowadays are no longer greeted by smiling revellers or happy food vendors, but instead by thugs roaming the streets looking for trouble. There is no longer room for families to enjoy the spectacles of the parade, the music or the food. They are so afraid to come. They shun the parade, calling it unsafe and who can blame them!

Our parade is first and foremost a showcase of our culture to North America and to other nationalities. These negative aspects should not be allowed in something that is essentially a stage for people from around the world to view an art form long ignored.

The glamour of masquerading is lost when a sea of people flood the streets and turn the stage (parade route), into a violent street party. I have friends in other countries that refer to our parade as “Ghetto-bana” and so many of them who participate in different parades around the world are SHOCKED to hear that non-masqueraders are allowed to degrade the parade as they do every year.

Never have I gone out on the road on that day and am not harassed by men without costumes, in the most degrading and disrespectful manners. Men in costume however, are so much more respectful, because like you, they have spent hundreds to be there and want to enjoy their day without incident.

Girls not in costume, bend your feathers, and tug at your costume when it gets in their way… but girls in costume apologize to each other and smile as they know, they are wearing one as well.

Here is my proposal:

To the City of Toronto I ask:


Seems drastic?? Think of the long-term positive effects. Less and less will people misbehave, and the parade will become safer over time. A lot more respect is paid to Toronto Police than to band security, and a lot more respect will be built over time toward our parade.

To my sweet Caribbean people I ask:

Educate each other on the importance of a positive perception on our culture. Let us show the world that we are civilized, organized and put on the best show on earth without fighting each other and killing each other in the process.

PARTICIPATE, PARTICIPATE, PARTICIPATE! Amplify your Carnival experience by joining one of the bands in the parade, rather than bombard them and destroy all their hard work.

Help the art form of mas making, become world recognized. Help showcase our culture in a positive way by being part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Playing mas is one of the best feelings in the world, try it once, and you will do it for the rest of your life!

Promote our culture by participating, rather than bring our culture down by destroying it and hiding it.

And it doesn’t have to be just about mas. Create something to showcase within the parade, or on the outside. Join a steel band, create art to sell to spectators… anything positive that showcases something Caribbean. Just Get Involved!!

Let us return the parade to a positive showcase of costumes and culture and the glamor of masquerading, by letting it be just that, a parade, not a free and out of control street party.

We continue to hinder the growth of something that can lead to more business… money and most importabtly respect for our community by letting this issue slide year after year.

Pass this msg along to everyone you know; City officials, newspapers, friends and family. Spread the word that we will no longer stand by as our parade degrades more and more every year. Discuss, strategize, have a voice and an opinion and give suggestions on the matter.

This page is the place for that!

Carnival is the “The Greatest Show on Earth” Let’s give the world a real show, something to be proud of and have so much fun doing it!

With all the Love and Respect I can give,

Sophia Rickson
Savage Arts International Ltd.

“We love this thing called… MAS!”


Karabana said...

I'm very glad to see that someone else is sharing our same sentiments about this. Last year there was Respect the Mas on facebook.

A very important thing I would add is masqueraders don't encourage the stormers by wining with them. These guys only continue to jump into your band bc they're getting jam! We need to take back our parade and give them hell for ruining it for us!

I make it a point of telling all stormers to leave the band: those that come up & start wining on me, or rudely push by me.
I'd really like to see more masqueraders this year set them straight:
You don't belong in our parade!

TRINI-K said...

•high five• for this BRILLIANT post. I was just saying the other day that I missed the days back home in Trinidad where I played mas, had a good time on the parade route, & didn't have to worry about men grabbing/touching without invitation. I know that some people don't mind it, but for me personally... I hate that Lakeshore gets so clogged with people that aren't in the parade, that once you pass the judges it's like the parade & the fun is over. I wish Toronto police would keep the parade stormer-free. As much as I like to mingle, I can mingle after the parade on the sidelines... After paying $350 for a costume & $475 for a plane ticket...I don't think that's too much to ask for. ;)

Anonymous said...

If Caribana used some of my $200 to provide me with a proper place to pee and fed me and kept me hydrated properly, I wouldn't have to squeeze my way in and out of the parade, letting others in in the process.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Your $200 goes to your band. If you arent being provided these amenities, there are bands out there who provide them.(they May not get it perfect every year, but some bands do make the effort.)

Anonymous said...

As a out-of-province masquerader and a Trini that truly appreciates the art form that is mas-making I'd like to thank Sophia for writing this article.

I'd like to highlight something that really stood out to me "To my sweet Caribbean people I ask:

Educate each other on the importance of a positive perception on our culture. Let us show the world that we are civilized, organized and put on the best show on earth without fighting each other and killing each other in the process."

Anonymous said...

Every year is the same story the bands have these so called security once judging is over most off these so called security start winning on the women just d same this is why dem thugs come in and joining,a free t-shirt say marshall on it and thats all they need so they can let friends in also.The band leaders need to demand a stronger POLICE presence if this parade want's to continue for a long time.POLICE,POLICE,POLICE and more POLICE.Take a look @ New York.

Anonymous said...

Look at New York? I went last year and seen plenty of people jumping up even with a heavy police presence. The police was more focusing on watching the naked lady touch herself. Police doesn't make a diffrence.

Anonymous said...

Great. It's not bad enough we've been locked in like a bunch of animals in a cage, but now you want to fill it with Police? Ridiculous!
You can point the fingers at everyone. The men with costumes (some) are worse than the jumpers. The cops stand around with their dry face, and frankly I'm not comfortable with some guy with a gun being distracted by bouncy boobs, etc.

Caribana was much more fun and had less stormers 14-15 years ago before the tall fencing went in.

Now we walk around surrounded by gross orange tape like that's supposed to keep the stormers out.

Caribana used to be fun. It used to be about you going home filthy and sweaty, with sparkles being taken off for a week. Now it's nothing but politics, high prices, and security.

...and now, we are insulting the only paying customers by searching their bags.

Anonymous said...


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