Wednesday, June 27, 2018

YARD SISTERS' Authentic Jamaican Tours in Support of Local Enterprise

Jamaica remains one of the top tourist destinations internationally for many reasons: beautiful weather, delicious cuisine, groovy music, breathtaking views, and charming, warm citizens. Year-round, the island is filled with tourists from around the globe who want to listen to reggae music while eating jerk chicken on one of the island's remarkable beaches.

According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, approximately 4.3 million travellers visited the island in the year 2017, which was a great increase from the usual expectation of 1 million annually. The boost in travellers over the years is also bringing a shift in habits as well. 

Earlier this year, the Jamaican Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett noted that visitors are increasingly seeking "authentic experiences" and opting to "immerse themselves in local culture: the food, music, people and communities" beyond the resorts of the north coast.

From Montego Bay to Ocho Rios, and Negril to Kingston, at any given time of year individuals are seeking the comforts and joys of Jamaica. For Calgary native Kym McCulley, it didn't take her long to discover that away from the lavish resorts and expertly managed hotels, that there was so much more to be experienced.

Kym is just one third of the entrepreneurs who founded YARD SISTERS, a Jamaican-based tour company that provides uniquely personalized and authentic experiences for visitors and Jamaican residents. Along with Jamaican residents Sheba Lindo, and Aljernon Wilson, YARD SISTERS is determined to no only provide excellent service to its patrons, but also to positively affect the communities in which they travel.

In 2014, Kym volunteered with the Canadian government within the industry of economic development, visiting Jamaica regularly. Travelling to the island solo, she'd often want to leave the confines of the uptown hotels in Kingston and instead explore the hills and valleys of the picturesque terrain around her.

Provided with a driver--Aljernon--Kym became more and more interested in branching out across Jamaica, and found herself expanding past the boundaries of her work, and into locales off the beaten trail. A genuine trust developed with Aljernon, and it soon blossomed into a partnership. While working in Portmore (just outside of Kingston), she became acquainted with Sheba (who worked training tour guides in Trenchtown), and the concept of  YARD SISTERS quickly became a reality.

Kym now travels between Jamaica and Canada many times for the year, and just returned from a 4-month stay on the island. Responsible for the photography and online maintenance of the company, she looks forward to organizing YARD SISTERS bookings, helping to plan itineraries, and also to develop what she believes is a necessary type of service for both the Jamaicans and the international visitors.

Aljernon takes care of airport pickups and driving, providing expert knowledge and awareness of the various tour stops and routes. Sheba's black caster oil farm is an unofficial home base and tour favourite, where visitors can witness the local enterprise and actively be a part of the community's development as a result.

"Come See Our Jamaica" is the slogan for the YARD SISTERS, because visitors can see the day-to-day operation of the farm and even dine under the stars. They can chat with Al about his young children and life in Jamaica while he drives across the country. By showing visitors "their" Jamaica, the YARD SISTERS hope to open up vacations to include unique and memorable experiences, as well help to build up the local economy through supporting the farm workers, community designers, and other patrons that they like to endorse.

"One of the biggest misconceptions about Jamaica is that it isn't safe," said Kym, when asked about the apprehensions that the YARD SISTERS hope to help visitors to Jamaica overcome. News stories and natural panic help to contribute to these fears, but she understands that some may be hesitant to step outside of the resort gates and unofficially explore. "Crime is everywhere, however. There are places in Calgary that I won't even travel to in the day time, let alone night!" said Kym. "Like many other major cities, I believe that most of the crime in Jamaica takes place with gang activities and being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But my experience overall has been that Jamaica is very safe, and it would be a shame to not see everything that the island has to offer because of these misconceptions."

Describing her relationship with Sheba and Al as familial, Kym says that Sheba is like a sister to her, and Al like a little brother. "What I love about Jamaica is that when a Jamaican adopts you into their world, you are a friend for life. The acceptance comes from the soul, and from the heart."

While her travels originally brought her to Kingston for work, Kym was grateful to be introduced to the island through this vibrant city. "Kingston is such an exciting city. Such an interesting, dynamic city filled with some of the most incredible performing and visual artists, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. We often encourage people to fly there, and at least stay for a couple of nights."

A part of the tour's service includes helping visitors to find accommodations, including guest houses and hotels outside of the city's core. The YARD SISTERS encourage their guests to explore, and talk with the locals to learn about their passions, beliefs, and views on life.

"Those are the real moments," said Kym. "Sometimes I like to hang out in the small bars on the roadside, have a beer, and converse with the locals who wander in and out throughout the day for a quick drink. Some of the best stories of my life, I've heard while in Jamaica."

Many of the recommendations made from the YARD SISTERS are based on experiences they themselves enjoy and cherish. From having moonlight meals at the caster oil farm, to sitting under a tribal tree in the Maroon Village, enjoying drumming and dancing. Visiting the Trenchtown cultural yard and taking in a musical performance. Eating jelly, fresh from a fallen coconut, or receiving a massage at the bath in St. Thomas.

"It's all about spreading the experience around the island," said Kym. "Even on the tours, there are particular spots that we prefer, but we ask visitors to give us an idea of what they would like to do, and we work around it. From art, to photography, coffee, or music: everything is so individualized, and we work within their budget as well. We know some places that we love to share, but we also don't force our preferences on the visitors either. We help them to plan and provide as much information and advice that we can, as we put together the itinerary."

Of utmost importance to Kym, Al, and Sheba is keeping relationships and partnerships with the local Jamaican entrepreneurs intact and thriving. The individuals working on the black caster oil farms, and those who prepare meals are all members of the local communities that contribute to the authenticity of the experiences, but also help to boost their local economy--outside of the regular tourist industry's activity. Tourism is definitely evolving on the island, and the YARD SISTERS want to stay connected to the trends and changes.

"I believe Jamaica is a natural attractor, with its rich heritage," said Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett in an address earlier this year, noting that 55,000 tourists visiting Jamaica in 2017 booked an Air BnB, which was up from 35,000 in the previous year. "We have added over 20,000 new visitors with a different type of demand for experiences in our space."

Kym believes that along with following trends (like those taking place with accommodations), it's important to be socially responsible and socially uplifting with their service.

"I love the Jamaican people, the Jamaican culture, and I love to continuously learn about it," she said. "Jamaica is a beautiful country, and the people of Jamaica work hard." She is dedicated to introducing people to Jamaica through YARD SISTERS, and hoping that they walk away from their personalized tour experience with the same joy, first-hand knowledge, and inspiration that she did during her introduction to the the island. "Sheba, Al, and I want to invite everyone to experience YARD, and we are committed to showing them the beauty of the island in a memorable way."

HOW TO BOOK A TOUR OF JAMAICA WITH "YARD SISTERS"

1) Visit the YARD SISTERS online on Instagram: send a DM to say hello, and get started!
2) Send an email to kym.mcculley@gmail.com to start planning your excursions!
3) Exchange phone numbers, and chat live or via video to get familiar with your tour elements!
4) Get ready to experience the culture, beauty, and community that makes Jamaica rich!

YARD SISTERS: Come See Our Jamaica
Affordable Custom Experience Trips Now Available




Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Nas Still Reigns // "Nasir" Album Review

The first album from Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones--"Illmatic"-- was released on my 16th birthday, in 1994, and it remains my favourite hip hop album of all times. In fact, Nas remains my favourite rapper of all times. As far as I'm concerned, he'll always reign in that genre of music because of who he was to me growing up, and who he continues to be in the industry. An intellectual, yet humble, yet powerful musical soul.

Yesterday the hip hop community lost two of its young contributors: Miami's XXXTentacion and Pittsburgh's Jimmy Wapo. My dedication to keeping up with hip hop has waned over the years so I'm unfamiliar with the music of the 20 and 21 year olds, respectively. Regardless, I hate to see the words "rapper killed" or "rapper shot" and know that it automatically casts negativity and doubt throughout the industry. Paranoia. Social unrest. Internal evaluation.

Hardly an expert in the genre and barely a seasoned purveyor of hip hop lyrics, I am a complete fan of music as a whole and I can always appreciate sounds that make me feel something. Now while I issued a self-imposed Kanye West boycott the other day (due to his Trump foolishness), I didn't mind taking in this Kanye-produced masterpiece. And it definitely made me feel something. Kanye is good again in my world, on a musical genius pass, and I've recommitted myself to listening to more hip hop on a daily basis. It felt that good!

I wish I could have heard this album for the first time in New York, underneath the Queensboro Bridge on June 14 with Nas and the gang. It was the perfect setting for these majestic choral arrangements and classic Nas grooves. And as much as I want to bun out Kanye indefinitely, I think the tracks would have sang out beautifully that night during the outdoor release...even with him and Kim around.

It's the 11th studio album from Nas, and the reviews I've read thus far have been mixed. Some said it fell flat, and others condemned it for being a part of the Kanye Show. As much as I'm a fan of Nas, I admittedly haven't "loved" every one of his albums thus far. Aside from "Illmatic," I've also deeply appreciated "It Was Written" in 1996, and "Stillmatic" in 2001. I really, really loved what he did partnering up with The Firm in 1997 for their self-titled album, and "God's Son" in 2002 was another good one. I recall being slightly disappointed with "Hip Hop is Dead" in 2006, and was too caught up in the deep south hip hop at the time to stay closely connected to Nas.

Now, 24 years after I first fell in love with this legendary lyricist, I feel like "Nasir" is an album that I can ride with in the car, and make an effort to enjoy in a way that I haven't with new Nas music...in years. I'm relieved! I'm happy. It feels like home...like I can again fall into a hip hop trance from an artist that I respect, and know well.

TRACK ONE - NOT FOR RADIO // The deep choral intro is beautiful and majestic, and the history lessons and bold declarations that "they're scared of us" are fitting, coming from an artist who has lived life through various tax brackets, and has the age and financial wisdom to speak about it confidently. It is the wisdom that points out how fortunate he is that God gave him/"us" compassion and forgiveness, and he articulates this instead of bashing his country's forefathers. "F--- your proclamation" was recognition enough. Always great to hear Diddy, keeping it cool.

TRACK TWO - COPS SHOT THE KID // It's repeated indefinitely on a Slick Rick sample..."the cops shot the kid". It's timely, and necessary. I look forward to a poignant video and widespread circulation of these lyrics and most importantly, this important cultural message. Accountability. I'm here for it.

TRACK THREE - WHITE LABEL // What I love about Nas, and also Kanye, is their love for instrumentation. The horns are awesome in this song and highlights Nas' personal history with his jazz musician father, Olu Dara. The song is otherwise steadily mellow, but lyrically strong as can be expected. My favourite line is Nas noting that he knows the consumer behaviour. He has, in essence, created the culture.

TRACK FOUR - BONJOUR // Beautiful contributions from Tony Williams on this track. Of all the songs, this is where Nas gets the most personal speaking metaphorically about women/his ex-girlfriends and experiences, and projecting the best for the growth of his children. His advice is strong with recommendations and warnings.

TRACK FIVE - EVERYTHING // So far, this is my favourite track on the album. It's hauntingly beautiful, and reminds me of the best of both Kanye and Nas, musically. The messages of acceptance and inclusion are most memorable, and the pleading to young black boys not to cry (along with Kanye expressing that if he could change anything, he'd change EVERYTHING) remind us that regardless of the success of these gentlemen (including The Dream, who is featured) that times still get rough. Lyrics I love: "Know your worth, and speak your truth. Let them come to you." and "Inclusion is a hell of a drug."

TRACK SIX - ADAM AND EVE // I know Nas is in the midst of some drama and accusations with his ex. I can appreciate that he didn't drag his thoughts too deeply into the album, and prefers that his private life remains private. I'm definitely not condoning any of the allegations, but I also can't afford to be distracted by the personal life of EVERY artist because let's face it: they've all done some shit. Some made it to TMZ...some never will. So while he raps about Adam and Eve, it's a classic-sounding Nas flow over a beautiful old untuned piano loop. This may be as intense an explanation of his domestic affairs as we'll ever get from Nas, and I'll leave the dissection up to those who will surely read beyond the chorus of Adam and Eve not falling too far from the apple tree. This song also features The Dream.

TRACK SEVEN - SIMPLE THINGS // He concludes the album with a bit of bragging, but well deserved acclaim. Like he says, he drops lines that "prestigious schools read to their students," and the slow jam vibe and easy bounce are a fitting end to this short project. A simple track with a simple message: he's worked hard, he'll teach his children the importance of his journey, and he's already proven to the world that he's a legend of his craft.

I'm happy to still be a hip hop fan, but truth be told: the last decade has been sticky. As a result, I've fallen slightly out of touch with the Migos and Post Malone era. What I love about getting "old" as a music lover is that the artists I grew up with are also getting old...but are still remaining relevant. It's reassuring to know that Nas, Jay, Puffy, and Ye are also getting greys, and getting wise. It's even more reassuring to know that they're still ascending, they're still keeping up, setting trends, and that they're able to bring me (an occasional hip hop skeptic) willingly back into the scene.

I'll patiently wait for his tour to be announced, and will be one of the first to purchase tickets for this iteration of his legacy. Nasir. This album will have a permanent place in my musical rotation: it's officially Escobar Season again!



Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Makes Toronto Caribbean Carnival So Special

The last of eleven Caribbean carnival band launches wrapped up this past weekend in Toronto with Atlantic Mas and their presentation of Semba at the Rebel nightclub, the most commonly known entertainment venue in the city. Already the Toronto Carnival wire is buzzing with electricity because--once again--the energy is shifting in the city, which will make for an exciting carnival season.

To those who don't pay attention to the logistics (and politics, oftentimes) of the Toronto Carnival culture, all of those above-mentioned details are completely insignificant. Band launches? Venues? Themes? The majority of Torontonians actually have no idea about how the annual Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival operates, and what it takes to produce North America's largest street festival.

Despite annual news coverage, one-on-one interviews with band leaders and chatting with costumed masqueraders on Grand Parade day...despite informing the public about the changes of the festival and the advances in culture and history, most still refer to the parade as "Caribana," and just welcome the tourists, money spending, and foreign vibes in the city. Many avoid downtown altogether on the Saturday before our Civic Holiday Monday. Many more pray that there is no violence, no front page news stories, and that all participants have a safe and rain-free carnival experience. I believe the city of Toronto has a "complicated" relationship with the carnival, while to the designers, leaders, members, and volunteers of the eleven main masquerade bands, carnival is LIFE.

The media plays their role as well. Each year we know what the footage will look like. Some wining up on Breakfast Television. Behind-the-scenes at a local mas camp. A CBC report about the history of Carnival in Toronto. And on parade day, we can all expect to see posts of a friendly Toronto police officer getting an exhilarating street dance from a beautiful Caribbean masquerader. We can tune into every evening news show from CityTV to Global, and see reporters interview participants, high profile attendees, and visitors to Toronto.

The Toronto Carnival story doesn't change much, on the exterior. It starts around July, it wraps up after the holiday, and it repeats indefinitely. Year after year, for half a century now. Amongst stories of funding, management changes, issues of creativity, fancy events, amazing triumphs, celebrity performances, and facts about Toronto's Caribbean community, the show goes on. Every year.

The story from the inside is much different, however, because carnival is a year-round endeavour. It never ends. Because while Toronto Carnival is gearing up, taking place, and winding down, there are dozens of similar carnivals around the world at various stages of the same process. Carnival is a lifestyle for some. It is a passion. A hobby. An enterprise.

There were eleven band launches in total this season, from the Toronto Caribbean Carnival experts. Those who put this passion above everything else. Starting with the Venom Carnival band launch mid-March and concluding with Atlantic Mas two months later, it was a series of shows, photos, and promotional videos created specifically for the soca lover and carnival supporter at heart.

The launches highlight each masquerade band's theme, costumes, DJs, and participants. Members of the carnival and cultural communities gather, ready to be impressed. It is the job of each masquerade band to put their best foot forward with staging, lighting, costume creation, theme relevance, and production value.

Historically, the launches have ranged from the extravagant and fantastic...to the underwhelming and basic. Based on a variety of reasons from finances to business acumen and of course costume aesthetics (and model wining skills), the launches can either go terribly right...or fall flat.

That is part of the annual interest and anticipation that comes with the occurrence of the carnival and all of its preparation. This isn't exclusive to Toronto, it is an international phenomenon. What is exclusive to Toronto is the city itself, and how deeply embedded the parade is to our downtown summertime culture. While there are never ending rumours of the festival's future and an equal amount of stories and speculations about its participants and their supporters, every summer like clockwork, the Toronto streets are decorated with revellers to mark the celebration of another year of execution.

With carnivals around the world from Trinidad (the mother of ALL carnivals), to American favourites like Miami Carnival and New York's Labor Day parade, and Caribbean gems like Cropover in Barbados, and carnivals in Cayman, Jamaica, and Bahamas, the carnival enthusiast can never grow tired of the availability of options. Japan, Germany, and Nottinghill Carnival in the U.K. are all locales where lovers of Caribbean music and culture can travel to to take part in the tradition. Each carnival has its personalized features, and things to look forward to. Each carnival has its reputation and highlights, that become known internationally as word spreads.

Needless to say, I'm biased because I was born and raised in Toronto, but I do think that the Toronto Caribbean Carnival has so many great features and highlights that it should be internationally revered as one of the go-to carnivals of the year. It should run like clockwork. It should be funded generously from those who benefit from the fruits of the carnival labour. We have all of the elements here to have an outstanding carnival every year.

Toronto Carnival is particularly special because of a few elements:

1) THE BANDS

We have the new young energy of Atlantic Mas, that are linked with international superstar and hometown legend Drake. We have the legacy of Saldenah Carnival, with Louis and his family of designers and loyal supporters that show up in the thousands each season. There's the unshakeable vibe of the Toronto Revellers, who host great summer limes and always have the sounds of iron and pan playing live from their mas camp. There's Carnival Nationz, who build mas like no other, and consistently bring us a spectacular presentation at the annual King & Queen competition. Bands like Venom Carnival and Fantazia who have design masterminds creating beautiful costumes, and there's Epic Carnival (formerly Durham Carnival) who have an amazing sense of community, D'New Regulars who come with years of expertise and tradition, and Sunlime and Costume Creators who also respect the art of mas and the process of costuming as well with a strong history of tradition and experience.

If you live in Toronto and love mas, these are all household names. The reputations, the vibes, the level of creativity, and customer service outcomes are all well known, and also fluctuate each season. While one band may reign for a few years strong, it's no surprise when another band steps up their game and wins the momentum for the next few seasons. It's a constant competition, and an entertaining process because the carnival community is a niche market that the bands have to strategize and plan to impress each and every year.

2) THE DJS

Toronto DJs of Caribbean music are top notch. Reggae and soca. Top notch. Hands down. I believe we have an amazing selection of selectors in this city, and can easily draw for a list of 20 or more that could flatten any dance, if given a chance. Internationally. Music is a strong point of Toronto, and our DJs are responsible for that vibe. From the radio, to boat rides, band launches, or weekly club bookings, it is the Toronto DJs that drive the fun and influence of our carnival through their music, messaging, and national profile.

I love to see band loyalty, when it comes to Toronto's Caribbean Carnival. I love to see DJs that find a band, and hold that band down through thick and thin. Build the brand. Build the vibe. Personalize the mood of the band. In fact, the DJ's role in the band is a crucial one, because it can carry on year-round, or it can fall off with the last song on the truck at the end of parade day.

The bands that are strong have DJs that are strong endorsing them. The bands that are fun to jump up with, are the bands that have fun DJs leading the way with their selections and MC-ing. The bands that are well branded and marketed have a team of DJs who are out there pushing the message of mas and carnival outside of the mas camp walls.

I believe our carnival is special because of our talented Toronto DJs, and I believe that should be one of the main draws for international visitors to take part in our celebration: the music is always proper.

3) THE EVENTS

It's almost to the point of over-saturation, but I definitely think that the events in our city are excellent. The venue situation is challenging, but somehow the DJs and promoters have managed to still find their way around the complications, and buss new venues and take patrons out of the downtown core and into the likes of Brampton, Markham, Ajax, and the north end of Toronto to catch a nice party.

The branding of events in Toronto is definitely stepping up. Parties that we have been attending now for over a decade, are still going strong. Newer events have quickly captured the attention of folks, and have become staples of the summer. Signature boat rides. Birthday events. Theme parties. Outdoor events. All of these happenings--carefully spread across the Toronto summer calendar--help to build the vibe before carnival, and sustain it in the fall/winter months as well.

As soon as the temperature starts to warm up, you know that there is a list of events that you can look forward to each year. The consistency is awesome. The vibes are always great, and it's nice to know that the culture has built these solid moments that draw not only Torontonians to attend, but also people from the U.S. and Caribbean.

4) THE VIBE

For those of us born and raised in Toronto, the vibe sometimes comes and goes. For those who have been out and about since our teenage years, and or witnessing activities from the sidelines, we know that the vibe here is like no other. Foreigners will comment on the multicultural nature of our city, and how great it is that everyone parties "together" for the most part. Visitors will notice that on any given night, there are at least a handful of options for entertainment. The vibe is essentially non-stop, with a little something for everybody.

We are an eclectic group of folks, and from comedy shows to hair shows, urban book fairs (shameless plug... http://www.kyapublishing.com/tube.html), to festivals, there is no shortage of events to catch a vibe from. I believe that Toronto's Carnival has always been the epiphany of events for the urban/Caribbean community in Toronto. Even now with the addition of Drake's OVO Festival that same long weekend, it's like all roads lead to those few days where the height of all things Toronto come to an amazing climax. The vibe of that weekend is the most important entertainment vibe the city experiences, and this has been the case for decades now.

ALL OF THESE ELEMENTS MAKE TORONTO CARNIVAL SPECIAL.

As much as it has its ups and downs, scandals and politics, badmind, and glorious triumphs, it is ours, and it is still going strong. When looking at the international spectrum of Caribbean-centered events, I believe that our "Caribana" holds a very, very special place on that spectrum. A place that we can't afford to lose (literally, and figuratively), and a place that we owe it to the next generation to preserve.

Although it has transitioned from the Caribana our parents took us to, back on University Avenue in the 90s...it is still ours. It has still been handed down, and still continues to take over the streets of our country's biggest city, every year.

It's up to us to honour and preserve this culture. It's up to us to ensure that the following generations learn from the beautiful and positive elements, and disregard the mixup that has plagued our community's view of how we celebrate. It's up to us to remember what it is we first loved about this festival, and what it means to us as a culture. We have to take the momentum and impact of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, and manipulate it into something dignified, something important and historically relevant, something fiscally beneficial, and something we can be proud of. All of us.

I believe that Toronto Carnival is special, because I refuse to believe anything else. Despite the ways in which I've been disappointed and discouraged by the players and the processes (I'm 100% sure I'm not the only one)...it still means too much to Toronto's Caribbean community for me to turn my back on it. I will always love Toronto Carnival, and I will always do my best to ensure that it remains a special occurrence in how the world at large, and Canada specifically, remembers and regards our beautiful Caribbean culture.




Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing "Urban Toronto Tales."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: ATLANTIC MAS

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)





BAND: Atlantic Mas
2018 THEME: Semba
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, May 19, 2018

BAND LEADER(S): Akil Heywood

MAS CAMP LOCATION: 2180 Lawrence Avenue East

EMAIL: contactus@atlanticmas.com
TWITTER:

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Fast Wine
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Machel Montano
COLOURS: Purple, blue, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 02: Bachata
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ak Goin 
COLOURS: Tan, pink, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 03: Baldi Posse
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @Lovinglife_jojo @Randyrooks @Lifesbutterfly
COLOURS: Fuschia, teal, pink

COSTUME SECTION 04: Skankin Sweet
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ak Goin 
COLOURS: Lime, pink

COSTUME SECTION 05: Kizomba
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ak Goin
COLOURS: Black, blue, orange

COSTUME SECTION 06: Azonto
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @readdyrockmedia @repsupstyles
COLOURS: Blue, teal, peach

COSTUME SECTION 07: School of Samba
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @neneglamorous
COLOURS: Pink, purple, teal

COSTUME SECTION 08: Jaz-a-Belle
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Kamilah Bernard, Kathleen Williams
COLOURS: Red, blue

COSTUME SECTION 09: Du'Sailor
SECTION LEADER: FayAnn Lyons
COLOURS: Blue, lime

_____________________________________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kerra Denel's Caribbean Women's Power Lunch, Supporting and Encouraging Women in Business

David Tufino Photography
Inspiration manifests from many sources; in Kerra Denel's life it naturally emerged from her love of Caribbean culture and the humanitarian passion of her family's influence. Owner of Kerra Denel Entertainment, the Trinidadian-born beauty is a cultural ambassador of many talents, who shares her expertise internationally as an event and artist manager, PR consultant, voice talent, and entertainment host. This Saturday, May 19, 2018 Ms. Denel will be hosting an afternoon of enlightenment and empowerment at the Caribbean Women's Power Lunch, powered by KD Entertainment.

Taking place at 5941 Leslie Street in Toronto from 1 p.m to 4 p.m., the lunch will be an afternoon of "food and sisterhood" where attendees and invited special guests can "eat, build, and empower" one another through their experiences and presentations.

"Networking is not about collecting contacts, it is about forming relationships," the event outlines. "Just as the goal is not more money, it is about living life on your own terms."

Attendees are encouraged to come out to take part in the fellowship, as well as take in the words of wisdom from the featured presenters from a wide range of disciplines. The admirable women from across the Caribbean diaspora are sure to provide an abundance of advice, motivation, and upliftment for the affair.

Special guest presenters will include:

Nneka Elliott
Lifestyle Blogger, and Host


Kamshuka
Author, and Life Coach

Hazel Smith
Business Operations Leader

Stachen Frederick
Non-Profit Executive Director and Consultant

Auntie Jillian
Social Media Personality

Ayanna Sealey
Mental Performance Coach and Net Practitioner

Stephanie Lowe
Health and Wealth Coach

Interactive events like the Caribbean Women's Power Lunch are necessary within the Caribbean community; the need for strength and mutual support is at the core of any social group, and helps to develop and maintain the cultural spirit.

Eli Ceballos Photography
Inspired by women in business herself, Kerra recognizes that confidence is key in any endeavour, as well as the growth and evolution of individuals and the community as a whole.

She has been a successful cultural ambassador with her business profile continuously expanding through her activities here in Canada, and through her adventures in Caribbean culture around the world. An instrumentalist with the AfroPan steel pan orchestra, as well as a featured costume model in various masquerade band presentations across Toronto, Kerra has dedicated her life to celebrating her culture as well as equipping the next generation to do the same.

@KerraDenel
Whether it's through event coordination at Florida's Caribbean Style Week, her work with Krave the Band in Barbados, or acting as the Team Lead Manager for Trini Jungle Juice operations in Canada, Kerra has proven to be a talent, as well as a force with a clear and intentional mission: to support her Caribbean brothers and sisters, and to lead her peers by gracious example.

In addition, her non-profit organization Kerra Loves Kids aspires to "educate and inspire children worldwide while sharping their future one book at a time." Encouraging women to also develop and fuel their businesses--while supporting one another as sisters--is the foundation to Kerra's success, and a key factor in the future growth of the community at large. This weekend's Caribbean Women's Power Lunch is a natural addition to Kerra's schedule of activities, as well as a necessary and motivating event for the Caribbean women of Toronto.

Tickets for the lunch are available via EventBrite at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/caribbean-womens-power-lunch-tickets-45577960908 for an afternoon that promises to be one that nurtures and leads the women in attendance with the knowledge and wisdom that will carry them through their daily professional pursuits.

For more information about the Caribbean Women's Power Lunch, connect with Kerra Denel online via her website at KerraDenel.com, or via email at kerradenelent@gmail.com.



















Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: D'NEW REGULARS

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)


BAND: D'New Regulars
2018 THEME: Straight Outta John John
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, May 5, 2018

BAND LEADER(S):

MAS CAMP LOCATION:

WEBSITE
EMAIL
FACEBOOK:
TWITTER:

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Blue Diamond
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @xtazeecarnival
COLOURS: Purple, pink, indigo

COSTUME SECTION 02: Desperados
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @ariyahlove_
COLOURS: Blue, grey, teal

COSTUME SECTION 03: Red Army
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @tg.vi
COLOURS: Orange, lime

COSTUME SECTION 04: Carib Tokyo
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @ariyahlove_
COLOURS: Red, blue

COSTUME SECTION 05: Renegades
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Clore Beauty
COLOURS: Black, lime, purple

COSTUME SECTION 06: Invaders
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG):
COLOURS: Lavender, pink, lime

COSTUME SECTION 07: Casa Blanca
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Clore Beauty
COLOURS: White, gold

COSTUME SECTION 08: All Stars
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Clore Beauty
COLOURS: Gold, blue

_____________________________________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: COSTUME CREATORS CULTURAL ARTS

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)






BAND: Costume Creators Cultural Arts
2018 THEME: Birds of Paradise
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, May 5, 2018

BAND LEADER(S): Whitfield Belasco

MAS CAMP LOCATION:

WEBSITE
EMAIL
FACEBOOK:
TWITTER:

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: Pink, white

COSTUME SECTION 02: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: Blue, lime

COSTUME SECTION 03: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG):
COLOURS: Purple, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 04: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: Red, gold

COSTUME SECTION 05: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT:
COLOURS: Red, yellow, lime

COSTUME SECTION 06: TBA 
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG):
COLOURS: White, red

COSTUME SECTION 07: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: Peach, white

COSTUME SECTION 08: TBA
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: 
COLOURS: White, silver

COSTUME SECTION 09: TBA 
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: Green

COSTUME SELECTION 10:
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): 
COLOURS: 

_____________________________________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE