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Toronto Caribbean Carnival
Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival.jpg
Abbreviation STCC[1]
Formation 1967, re-branded May 2011, Renamed - October 2015
Type Festival organization based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Legal status Active, non-profit
Purpose Celebration of Caribbean heritage
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 19 Waterman Avenue Suite 200, Toronto, ON  M4B 1Y2
Region served
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Official language
English, French
Denise Herrera-Jackson
Parent organization
Festival Management Committee
Affiliations City of Toronto [1], Toronto Mas Bands Association [2], Ontario Steelpan Association
1.2 million
Website Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto
Formerly called
Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival

The Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly and still commonly called Caribana, is a festival of Caribbean culture and traditions held each summer in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a Caribbean Carnival event, that has been billed as North America's largest street festival, frequented by over 1.3 million visitors each year for the festival's final parade and an overall attendance of 2 million.

The entire event, which is one of the first Caribbean Carnivals along with those in New York City, Notting Hill and Boston to be held outside of the Caribbean region, brings in over one million people to the shores of Toronto and over $400 million into Ontario's economy, annually.[2]

Following a trademark law dispute between the original operators of the festival, who still owned the Caribana name, and the current organizers, the festival was renamed Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival in May 2011.[3]

As of May 14, 2014 The CAG announced that it reached a settlement with the organizers of the current festival (Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto) The Festival Management Committee, Scotiabank and the late Charles Roach Estate for an undisclosed amount [4]


Caribana was introduced to Canada by immigrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, Antigua and Dominica. Much of the music associated with the event, such as steel pan, soca and calypso SCA and Rock Steady originated from various Caribbean islands. Caribana reflects the numerous Carnivals that take place across the Caribbean.

While Caribana runs for two weeks, the culmination of the Caribana event is the final weekend which is punctuated by the Grand Parade of Bands. This weekend traditionally coincides with the Ontario statutory holiday Civic Holiday.

Centennial College, 2010
Caribana parade, 2010
Caribana parade participants, 2006


Caribana has run annually since 1967, and was originally performed as a gift from Canada's West Indian community, as a tribute to Canada's Centennial. In previous years the main Caribana events have been run by a nonprofit Toronto-based organization named the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC). Its board members are mostly made up of expatriate-Caribbean nationals living in Canada.

In 2006 the Caribbean Cultural Committee ran into financial troubles and due to lack of financial accountability it was fiscally cut off from the City of Toronto, pending that it gets its financial house in order. During the RIFT the body claimed that it legally held the trademark for "CARIBANA" and in response the City of Toronto fronted the money to put on the Carnival event however it was forced to temporarily change the name to the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana) Festival.

Festival was previously named Scotiabank Caribana, but was renamed in May 2011 as a result of an order from the Ontario Superior Court Of Justice ruling that the Caribana Arts Group (CAG), the successors of Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), have legal rights to the name Caribana, so that the court ordered the FMC to rename the festival. On May 25, 2011 the festival released its new logo and new name, "Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto".[5] In October 2015 Scotiabank announced that it was not renewing its sponsorship for the Caribbean Carnival. Current name until a new Title Sponsor is Toronto Caribbean Carnival and released a new logo.

Year Attendance Notes
1992-08-01 1.1 M[6][7] or 1.5 M[8][9] or 1.2[10] After the event, the City of Toronto forgave its outstanding debt.[9] Hotel partnership formed.[11]
1993-07-19 1 M[12] In May, Caribana fired its operating chief.[7] At launch in Nathan Phillips Square, Premier Bob Rae calls the event a "beacon of hope" for all Canadians, as a symbol of racial harmony. "Carry a Can to Caribana" launched, in support of Daily Bread Food Bank.[13] Caribana Marketplace covered market added at Marilyn Bell Park.[14] A well-behaved crowd and barricades along the entire parade route contributed to an incident-free parade.[12] With attendance down, the board chair blamed the federal and provincial tourism ministries for not funding their American advertising campaign.[10]


Violent incidents have sometimes occurred at the festival, though organizers have long disassociated themselves from the violence. Said Lennox Farrell in 1992: "We as a board abhor any kind of violence whatsoever. If violence occurs outside a Blue Jays game, it is not ever associated with the Blue Jays game. We wonder why in the mind of the press... that shooting has become associated with Caribana."[15]

1993: On July 28, a 29-year-old jumped off a Caribana cruise boat at 11 pm, telling friends that he would meet them on shore at Ontario Place. The Trillium, the boat they were on, was about 300 feet (100 metres) from shore. Police recovered his body on the 30th.[16] The victim's mother was hurt by speculation about his sobriety.[17]

While there were 60 case of heat exhaustion, only one arrest was made, after an adult assaulted a teen with a baseball bat. Another man was stabbed in the finger.[12] When barrier dropped at one point, the crowd helped lift them back up.[10]

1996: Aug. 3, 1996: Elrick Christian, 23, was shot and killed and three others, including a nurse visiting from Britain, were wounded during the Caribana parade. Also, three men were arrested on weapons-related charges after a volley of shots was fired in Marilyn Bell Park, beside the parade route.

2011: A man died in a police shooting, while an innocent bystander - a teenage girl - suffered gunshot wounds - she was accidentally shot by police - putting her in critical condition. Another man was hospitalized after the bullet grazed his eyebrow.[18]

2013: An 18-year-old man was killed after he was run over by a float four hours after the parade ended. The man was standing beside the float before being drawn under it.[19]

2014: Aug. 2, 2014: A man was stabbed twice in the chest on the parade route and was in critical condition. It was reported later that he was in stable condition after being treated in hospital.[20]

2015: Aug 1, 2015: A man was stabbed in the chest following the parade. Paramedics in a nearby station located the male and transported him to hospital in critical condition.[21]

2015: Aug 4, 2015: During the early morning hours of August 4, 2015, a caribana/OVO[22] (a concert series held by Toronto rapper Drake) after party was taking place at Muzik night club, which is located in the CNE grounds in Toronto. As the party was coming to a close multiple incidents of gun fire erupted inside and outside the club. As result, a man and woman were killed and at least three others were injured.[23]

Main event[edit]

The festival is highlighted by a street parade, which is held the first weekend in August. It consists of costumed dancers (called "Mas players") along with live Caribbean music being played from large speakers on the flat-bed of 18 wheeler trucks. The genre played is mainly soca calypso, and steelpan, but you can also find floats which play chutney and reggae.


In addition to the main parade, the Caribbean community also celebrates a smaller pre-dawn parade known as J'ouvert (Pronounced "Jou-vay"). This to has been modelled after and taken from Trinidad Carnival. In Caribbean French-creole this means "day open" or morning. The J'ouvert portion of Carnival is the more rhythmic part of the Carnival celebration and is usually featured with steel bands, and persons using improvised musical instruments. It is not usually accompanied by any singing, but will have a lot of whistles and other music makers. Spectators and or persons "playing Mas" will occasionally get themselves covered from head-to-toe with mud, flour, baby powder, or different water-colored paints in the tradition of the Caribbean-based J'ouvert celebrations. In many instances everyone in the band is supposed to resemble evil spirits while parading around at night. There are some common characters[24] that are a part of Afro-Caribbean folklore[25][26] and include things like Red Devils (people covered in red paints), Blue Devils (people covered in blue paints), Green devils, Black devils, Yellow devils, White devils, (usually people throwing baby powder or flour.) or people just covered in other concoctions which are supposed to resemble mud[27] or oil.[28][29]


Leading up to the main parade a number of Caribbean music artists perform in Toronto. These parties are generally called "fêtes", for a French-Creole Caribbean word meaning "festival", and usually start in June–July.


The bands are the most important part of the main Carnival parade. The bands are actually in competition with one another during the parade. They must pass a judging spot which will rate each band section for its costume design, energy of masqueraders, creativity of presentation and so on. Work on the costumes begin soon after the previous year's celebration and usually takes one full year to complete all of the costumes.

Carnival developments[edit]

  • In September 2004, the consul general of Trinidad and Tobago pledged to work more closely with the city of Toronto to jointly promote Caribana and to provide direct-knowledge on how Toronto can more effectively grow the festival.[30] Trinidad and Tobago holds an annual Carnival celebration of their own from December until Ash Wednesday, on which Caribana was originally based. Industries and sectors which stand to benefit from more collaboration with Trinidad and Tobago include Toronto's tourism product, the hotels, storeowners, caterers, airlines, transport services and the business community.
  • In early 2006, Toronto municipal government did not renew the funding for the Caribana Cultural Committee (CCC) which has organized the festival in past years citing recurring accounting problems. Instead, the funding was given to the Toronto Mas Band Association which organized the festival in 2002. Due to an ongoing dispute about the ownership of the trademark "Caribana", the 2006 festival is being promoted as "the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana)". This distinction seems unimportant to most Torontonians, who continue to call the festival simply "Caribana."
  • In April 2010, a panel for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ruled that Scotiabank, as the sponsors of the Caribana festival, did not have grounds for being awarded the domain name from its current owners the Working Word Co-operative.[31]
  • In May 2010, Caribana occurred under a new initiative created to involve post-secondary schools. The only college to participate was Centennial College School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture, where they created a costume theme of the Tropical Amazon.[32]
  • In July 2011, the students made a return to the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Festival and participated in highly King and Queen show under a new theme " LEGENDS " Our section that was chosen between the committee and Tribal Knights would fit the multicultural diversity of international Students from china and Japanese " Legends of Orient" This year would be a little different where it was opened up to the rest of the college staff, faculty, administration to participate with the Centennial College Student Association CCSAI. This year costume was worn by Annakay McCalla who wore the costume for the first time the Centennial College - School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture to enter the competition at the Grand Parade and it will be judged with the mas band Tribal nights and made history that our costume was judged and received 4th place with Tribal Knights. The costume was interviewed by Rogers Cable, Global TV, Sway magazine, CTV, WOW TV and others. There was large media coverage of the college participation this year by CTV/ CP24 on Parade Day on July 30 there was several pictures taken which are on Facebook, YouTube, Flicker,[33]
  • As of September 1, 2010, new management took over the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which names Denise Herrera-Jackson as CEO/Chair of FMC and Chris Alexander as CAO.
  • In May 2012 - As a part of the continued partnership with Centennial College, the FMC the management of Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto (SCCT) for the very 1st time has Centennial College hospitality students as part of the their Internship/Co-OP program from the Post Grad Festival Management Program students such as Fabia Morgan (Assistant Gala Coordinator/ Administrative Assistant), plus the Business Administration program Shemmie Bayne (Administrative Assistant to Festival Administrator) and from Festival and Events Management Class/Hotel and Resort Management Program-Steven McKinnon (Office Assistant & Marketplace Coordinator)
  • As of May 2013 - New Parade General Operations Manager Curtis Eustace took over from Sam Lewis. Lewis retired in August 2012 after a successful tenure as GM of Operations. There were several staffing changes in the FMC Office for the 2013 Festival. The 2013 Season started off with a NEW - Volunteer Assistant position, to assist the new Volunteer Manager Judith Thompson; a new Marketplace Coordinator - Shemmie Bayne replaced Steven McKinnon who left to pursue development at his own company Kinron Associates Event Services Management.
  • In 2014, The Festival Management Committee went through major changes with eliminating the General Operations Manager position and dividing the duties between 2 people will provide cost savings and major changes to Parade Route and overall programming for 47th Annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
  • In 2015 Festival Management Committee announces a new Parade General Manager of Operations and made several staff changes restoring the festival office staff to 2012 Staffing, it was announced major changes to parade route and crack down on Security for Pan Am games changes to events and sponsors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto 2012 - The official website
  2. ^ "The Caribana success story". Toronto Star. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  3. ^ "Caribana now Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival". CTV News, May 25, 2011.
  4. ^ "Caribana trademark lawsuit settled". Toronto Star. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Armstrong, Jane (5 August 1992). "Crews took 3 days to clean up streets". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). 
  7. ^ a b "Caribana fires operating chief". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). 21 May 1993. p. A07. 
  8. ^ Brent, Bob (4 August 1992). "Organizers fear violence might thwart '93 Caribana". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A06. 
  9. ^ a b Small, Peter; Jane Armstrong (11 August 1992). "Caribana expecting bigger profit". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A06. 
  10. ^ a b c MacKinnon, Donna Jean (5 August 1993). "Caribana draws grumbles and rave reviews". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A06. 
  11. ^ Henton, Darcy (1 May 1993). "Tourism faces new economy". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A2. 
  12. ^ a b c "A million revellers soak up Caribbean beat". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). 1 August 1993. p. A01. 
  13. ^ Wright, Lisa (20 July 1993). "Caribana bumps and grinds". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A06. 
  14. ^ Turnbull, Barbara (30 July 1993). "Party time!". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A06. 
  15. ^ Brent, Bob (4 August 1992). "Organizers fear violence might thwart '93 Caribana". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A6. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "Body of man, 29, found on bottom of lake". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). 31 July 1993. p. A04. 
  17. ^ Wright, Lisa (1 August 1993). "Police find body of man who leapt from ferry boat". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. A13. 
  18. ^ Hannay, Chris (30 July 2011). "One dead, two injured in shooting along Caribbean parade route in Toronto". The Globe and Mail (Toronto ON). Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Nguyen, Andrew; Fatima, Sahar (3 August 2013). "Man, 18, dead after being drawn under Caribbean festival float". The Toronto Star (Toronto ON). Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  20. ^ "Caribbean Carnival parade route stabbing victim in stable condition". The Canadian Press (Toronto ON). 3 August 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Wilson, Codi (1 August 2015). "Man rushed to trauma centre after stabbing on CNE grounds". CP24. 
  22. ^ Alexander, Julia (4 August 2015). "OVO Fest 2015 review: Drake proves he's a '6 God'". Toronto Sun. 
  23. ^ "Toronto police seek 2 persons of interest in deadly Muzik shooting". 4 August 2015. 
  24. ^ "Old-Time Carnival Characters (ARCHIVE)". Trinidad Investment and Development Co. (TIDCO). Archived from the original on 2004-09-07. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  25. ^ "Trinidad & Tobago's Folklore and Legends The Mayaro Soucouyant (ARCHIVE)". Paria Publishing. Archived from the original on 2002-03-13. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  26. ^ "Of Myths Folklore and Legends – The Story of Lougarous and Soukouyants". TheDominican.Net. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  27. ^ "Artiste: 3 Canal, Song: Mud Madness". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  28. ^ "Photo of some "Blue Devils" during the 2007 Cricket World Cup-In the Caribbean". Flickr. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  29. ^ "Artiste: 3 Canal, Song: Blue, 1997". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  30. ^ The Trinidad Guardian -Online Edition Ver 2.0
  31. ^ El Akkad, Omar (26 April 2010). "Scotiabank fails in bid to snag Caribana domain name". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 May 2010. Scotiabank’s unsuccessful attempt to gain control of the potentially lucrative website name became the basis for a case before the global tribunal that resolves such domain name disputes – a case that lawyers say could have set a wide-ranging and controversial precedent. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Centennial College students getting into the Caribana spirit", CNW, July 27, 2010.

External links[edit]