By Gemma Raeburn-Baynes
NO controversy – just a great time for all celebrating the Spice Island.
The “Spice Island Cultural Day Extravaganza” staged on July 21 at Vinet Park in Montreal was a celebration of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and it was a massive success.
The event was developed and organised by members of the Grenadian community in Montreal in collaboration with the office of the Honorary Consul for Grenada in Quebec, Mr. Leonard Wharwood Jr. and the Grenada Nationals Association of Montreal Inc.
The aim was to showcase the music, culinary delights and other cultural offerings of the Spice Island at a well-organised summer festival.
And the more than 3,000 Montrealers that flocked to Vinet Park, which is located in Little Burgundy, the historical birthplace of Montreal’s Black community to enjoy and celebrate the delights of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, was evidence of the grand success that was the event. Much to the satisfaction of our many sponsors, media partners and partner organisations.
More than 300 individuals participated as vendors, entertainers, including King Ajamu, Tallpree, KennyC and many others, chefs, models, masqueraders making Spice Island Cultural Day a point of reference for Grenadian-ness in Montreal as well as the potential of becoming a signature event in this the city of festivals.
Also several well-respected politicians and community leaders took time off to be present at the extravaganza adding to the prestige of the event. They included Mme Thibeault, who represented Montreal’s Mayor Valerie Plante, as well as Ambassador Derrick James, Consul General for Grenada in Canada, Mr. Leonard Wharwood Jr, Honorary Consul for Grenada in Quebec, Ms. Patricia Maher, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority and one of the main sponsors of the event and Dr. Myrna Lashley, Honorary Consul for Barbados in Montreal.
Grenada’s Minister of Youth, Sports, Culture and the Arts, Norland Cox was on hand to represent the Grenada Government and to present awards to six Grenadians in the Diaspora.
Given the overflow of positivity that surrounded the extravaganza from the planning stages, we the organisers were more than surprise to read about a so-called controversy surrounding the organising of Grenada Day here in Montreal.
There was no controversy as stated in your newspaper article of July 20.
As far as we know, in 2016, after attending a meeting held by the Honorary Consul for Grenada in Montreal to begin to establish a Grenada Day, Ms Florence Jones went rogue and registered
“Grenada Day” under her own name and her spouse, unknown to Honorary Consul Wharwood, thus the birth of Spice Island Cultural Day.
For the records: Spice Island Cultural Day Association of Quebec (SICDAQ) is a registered incorporated non-profit organisation founded in 2017 with the mission of promoting Grenadian culture through storytelling, literature, performing arts, music, food and entertainment to the greater Montreal area.
It has as its mandate to promote multiculturalism through art, spoken word and performing arts while contributing to entrepreneurial multiculturalism.
SICDAQ also brings a cultural balance to the fabric of Montreal. Its mandate is also to promote the Spice Island culture in Canada and strengthen the cultural and social understandings for present and future generations of Black and Caribbean Canadians.
The Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique community in Montreal, with an estimated population of 8000, has, and continues to form a longstanding, active and very integral part of the Caribbean and Black community of this very cosmopolitan city.
Our vision is an ongoing extravaganza of celebration showcasing the rich and very powerful ancestral traditions, history, culture, achievements and aspirations of the tri-island nation state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Our mission, which was definitely accomplished in our inaugural event, was to showcase and celebrate Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in all its glory and talents with inclusion, pride, innovation, creativity and grow the product over time to become a “go to” event for promoting Grenada to the world.
The Grenadian and Caribbean community’s growth in and contribution to Montreal, Quebec and Canada are evident and SICDAQ’s initiative seeks to enhance those contributions as well as work towards the development of our homeland of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Our aim is to work towards “lifting” our community and our native land with special focus on assisting our youth and encouraging their positive involvement in initiatives such as ours.
Our action deserves support since this is what makes a great community.
So in Montreal on Saturday, July 21, there was no controversy. Ask the thousands of Montrealers including our media partners, sponsors and government officials, both local and from Grenada who showed up and thoroughly enjoyed The “Spice Island Cultural Day Extravaganza”
(Gemma Raeburn-Baynes is the Public Relations Officer of Spice Island Cultural Group – Montreal, Quebec)
Editor’s Note: THE NEW TODAY was given the following transcript of a message allegedly sent by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to one of the two Grenadian factions in Montreal on the controversy. It reads as follows:
“I will arrange to come to Montreal to discuss with both groups to have a united front. I will be communicating with all concern the plans for my visit”.