Canada celebrates 100 years of Indo- Caribbean arrival
wide will be gathering in Toronto for the Guyana Festival on June 20-22, easily one of the largest gatherings of the Guyana diaspora in the word.
Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo will be dropping in to the L\u2019Amoreaux Commu- nity Centre at Kennedy and McNicoll, along with numerous other Guyanese from the Caribbean, the United States and around the world. The two day extrava- ganze also attracts a fair amount of other Caribbean visitors and Canadians who have come to know and appreciate the tens of thousands of Guyanese in Canada.
There is no shortage of activities to keep the attention of the 20,000 plus expected to attend. The trade show and tourism display,
the arts and crafts fair, the display of books by Guyanese writers, the cultural shows, the food festival, and the famous duck curry competition are just a taste.
Sports minded folks have to take in the celebrity cricket match, the 20-20 cricket competition, the softball, soccer and domi- noes tournaments, after which there\u2019s the famous Independence lime.
This festival also provides a rare oppor- tunity for Guyanese to come together and renew acquaintances with others scattered throughout Ontario and every other province and territory in Canada. This greats sprawling country and its millions of people over thousands of miles is not as friendly to association as the Caribbean. May this festival be a memorable one.
tA small fire at the National Cultural Cen- tre (NCC) on Sunday night damaged the stage and curtains and led to the shocking discovery of an apparent explosive device underneath the stage.
Just after 9 passers-by as well as persons in the vicinity of the cultural centre saw smoke coming from the top of the building and the Guyana Fire Service was sum- moned. The acrid fumes emanating from burnt wires and the stage curtains were con- tained about 20 minutes after firemen ar- rived. But just as they were assessing the damage in the presence of Minister of Cul- ture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, ranks began to break open parts of the cul- tural centre stage fearing that there might be a fire underneath. It was then that they discovered the device which sent everyone scampering for safety. The device com- prised four small blue cylinders enmeshed in wires and part of it was covered in a black plastic bag.
It appeared to have been deliberately set there so that the burning curtains might ig- nite it. The second and third blocks of the curtains were severely burnt and the debris was still smoking on the stage where it fell and also caused the stage floor to start burn- ing. Firemen opined that the fire started on the curtains and as the burnt pieces fell, flames spread to the floor.
major venues for theatrical and other per- formances for Carifesta 10 scheduled to begin in August.
Gunmen have hijacked and robbed a bus- load of passengers travelling from Aroaima to Linden on the Aroaima trail and forced the driver to take them to a destination un- known.
Police later arrested a teenager who they believed was part of the gang, but up to press time last night there had been no sighting of the others who hijacked the minibus. There are believed to be the men could be those who escaped with Rondell Rawlins from Christmas Falls after a sur- prise police attack on June 6.
Police said they received a report that at around 4:30 am last Tuesday a number of armed men stopped a mini-bus which was en route from Aroaima to Linden on the Aroaima Trail. The armed men robbed the passengers, the exact items are yet to be as- certained, after which they took the passen- gers out of the vehicle and ordered the driver to take them to an unknown destina- tion. The driver was later released, the po- lice added.
A teenager who appeared to be not older than 14 years old stopped the bus and pre- tended to be joining it when a group of other men approached the bus. The men were decked out in army-type clothing and wore bulletproof vests. Among g items taken from the passengers were their cellu- lar phones and identification cards.
Indians from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe gathered recently to pay homage to two revered Indian heritage leaders Henri Sidambarom and Tamby Soupragen in song, and by erecting monuments in their honour. hoto courtesy Jean Sahai.
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of In- dustry and Commerce says bluntly that business owners are leaving the country be- cause of the continuing escalation of crime, even though there has been a significant re- duction in kidnappings for ransom.
Chamber president Ian Collier has said yesterday there is a broader concern about young people, including potential business owners, who leave Trinidad and Tobago and are "thinking twice" about returning home.
Collier said at a press conference that some people are migrating and have been doing so since 2002 when crime levels first began to significantly increase.
He acknowledged that kidnappings for ransom have gone down from its all-time highsm but he was not impressed by cur- rent efforts to control crime.
He said there can be no real diversifica- tion of the economy if there is no signifi- cant reduction in the crime levels. \u201cIf you are going into a diversified economy, then clearly one would have to have a very se- cure environment. "
This has been a year like no other in the history of Indo-Caribbeans in Canada. Many in our community woke up in sur- prise on realizing that we have marked our first hundred years, and gone past 200,000 members in this country.
That\u2019s more people than any city in Guyana, Trinidad or Suriname, and more than most of the small nations in the Caribbean like Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent.
We have grown up in more than numbers and time. First, second and even third gen- erations of Canadian born Indo-Caribbeans are coming up.Their elders now know for certain that most of them will not be re- turning to the Caribbean for more than short visits. Our destiny is here, though we will long keep our memories and ties with the Caribbean.
The Indo-Caribbean Times is proud to be associated with this historic celebration of Indo-Caribbean Arrival in Canada. We highlight some of the activities in this issue, and pledge to continue to focus on our com- munity\u2019s growth and progress in Canada.
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ayor of Markham congratulated the Vedic Cultural Centre on its 10th Annual South Asian Her-
The honorable Consulate General of Guyana, Danny Doobay who along with the Mayor of Markham declared open the cul- tural extravaganza at the Vedic Cultural Centre at its 10th Annual South Asian Her- itage Month Celebrations on Saturday, May 31, 2008 recognized the Centre for its con- tribution in maintaining the heritage and culture of its ancestors in this Multi Cultural country.
In his address he congratulated the or- ganization and presented an award to the Vedic cultural Centre for its celebration of the 100th anniversary of Indo-Caribbean presence in Canada, 170 th Anniversary of Indian arrival in the western world and its 10th Annual South Asian Heritage Month Program. He acknowledged the organiza- tion for its role in forging greater linkages between Hindus and other communities and in building partnerships with other cultures aimed at creating a greater understanding, tolerance and a stronger Canadian Mosaic.
Mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti also presented a plaque to the Vedic Cultural Centre, on the occasion recognizing their achievements. The plaque reads as follows: \u201cThe Mayor and Council of the town of Markham extend congratulations and best wishes to the Vedic Cultural Centre as it celebrates and presents its 10th Annual South Asian Heritage Month Program rec- ognizing your educational and cultural achievements\u201d.
He congratulated the organization for its outstanding contribution in promoting cul- tural diversity in the City of Markham and reminded the audience that Canada does not ask you to give up your heritage but rather encourages you to use those values to en- rich the Canadian Mosaic. He also com- mended them for issuing a commemorative Canada Postage stamp recognizing 100 years of Indo-Canadian presence in Canada which was launched as part of the celebra- tions.
Adit Kumar, Chairman of the Vedic Cul- tural Centre South Asian Heritage Month Committee accepted the award on behalf of the organization and thanked the Consulate General and Mayor of Markham for recog- nizing and acknowledging the work of the Centre in promoting cultural diversity in the town of Markham.
Adit Kumar pointed out that the organi- zation started this program 10 years ago to raise awareness to the 5th of May, 1838, the day that the first batch of Indian Indentured immigrants arrived in the Western World. They went to British Guiana now known as Guyana, the country of birth of many of the immigrants who have now migrated and settled in Canada.
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In hosting and producing this program I have learned that there is no shortage of successful good hearted Guyanese in Toronto.
This production shows young Guyanese what others have done, and what they can do too.lease take some time to visit www.guyanabeat.com and click on \u201cprevi- ous shows\u201d to see the videos.
We are embarking on a new Generation of Guyanese \u2013 hyphenated Guyanese. For me, I\u2019m a Guyanese-Canadian and couldn\u2019t be more proud.
Camille was intensely involved in the Centenary Celebrations put on by the Toronto Arya Samaj at the Vedic Cultural Centre, and will be involved in the Guyana Festival coming out this weekend.
She welcomes input from the community and can be reached at the program\u2019s web site at www.guyanabeat.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camille Ross is a first generation Canadian of Guyanese heritage. A recent graduate from the School of Journalism at Ryerson University, she is the creator and host of Guyana Beat, a weekly television pro- gramme in Toronto, Canada.
\u201cI studied journalism at Ryerson Univer- sity and always had a particular interest in community reporting. While volunteering with a community television station, I learned they were searching for ethnic pro- gramming to reflect the various cultures in Toronto. When I found out that they did not have a Guyanese program- I pitched them an idea for a show, and they loved it.
\u201cI knew that with our active Guyanese Di- aspora there would be more than enough content for a fresh and informative show twice a month.
Given the diversity of Guyanese people, I decided to stay away from religion and cover the culture and activities of our na- tion\u2019s six peoples as they live here in Toronto.
Guyana Beat takes viewers inside the lively culture of the Diaspora in the GTA. Each week we go around the city to learn about the cuisine, entertainment, history, politics, social life, and more surrounding the community.
The events that are put on by the Guyanese community each month are end- less, Guyana Beat takes its viewers behind the scenes for a sneak peak.
The show also features success profiles of members of the Guyanese community who are making their mark in Toronto. I\u2019ve pro- filed some of the greatest; Auntie Comesee,
He added that MPP Raminder Gill who attended the first program was so impressed with what he saw that he went on to pilot the bill in Parliament that designated the month of May as South Asian Heritage Month and the 5th of May as Indian Arrival Day.
Since then the Vedic Cultural Centre ex- panded its program to celebrate South Asian Heritage as a whole rather than limit it to Indo-Caribbean Heritage and the com- mittee was renamed as Vedic Cultural Cen- tre South Asian Heritage Month Committee which was tasked with producing this show every year, with this year marking the 10th successive year of the celebrations.
Every year the committee chooses a dif- ferent theme and this year the theme was celebrating 100 years of Indo-Caribbean presence in Canada, recognizing Dr Ken- neth Mahabir and M N Santhoo who came from Trinidad and Guyana respectively as the first Indo-Caribbeans to settle in Canada.
The exhibition which preceded the cul- tural show focused on the 100th Anniver- sary of Indo-Caribbean presence in Canada, recognizing Dr Kenneth Grant Mahabir and MN Santoo who came from Trinidad and Guyana respectively as the first Indo- Caribbean immigrants to settle in Canada. Huge life size scrolls depicting several Indo-Caribbean achievers with their contri- butions and achievements were promi- nently displayed and a commemorative Canada Postage stamp recognizing 100 years of Indo-Canadian presence in Canada was launched as part of the celebration.
The Indo Caribbean achievers who at- tended the exposition were each presented with a plaque with the keepsake commem- orative stamp and they all paid tribute to the Indo-Caribbeans as well as all peoples of the Caribbean for their contributions and achievements and exhorted them to give back something to the community.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Chan who declared open the exhi- bition read a message from the Premier of Ontario in which he offered congratulations to the organizers and the community on the occasion and also paid tribute to the contri- butions of the South Asians to the Canadian Mosaic.
The exhibition also featured artifacts com- memorating the 170th anniversary of the Arrival of Indians in the western world, the first batch of Indian immigrants having ar- rived in Guyana (formerly British Guiana) on May 5th 1838.
The interactive booths and artifacts cap- tured the immigrant experience in the colonies and a very popular booth was the mini logie which highlighted the living quarters of the immigrants.
Camille interviews Adit Kumar of the
Vedic Cultural Centre on the May 31
Indo-Caribbean Centenary celebration
Mayor of Markham Frank Scarpatti, Amar Umadas president of Toronto Arya Samaj,
Adit Kumar Chairman of Vedic Cultural Centre South Asian Heritage Committee,
Anand Rupnarain past president TAS, Danny Doobay and Amar Erry president of
Arya Samaj Markham share in the presentation to the Toronto Arya Samaj by Guyana
Consul General Danny Doobay ( second from right).
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