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West Indian Culture in Edmonton

TrinCan Steel OrchestraThe notion of sharing culture and friendship with other Albertans is not new to Caribbean-Albertans. In 1966, a small group of Caribbean immigrant students at the University of Alberta in Edmonton formed the West Indian Society to meet others from their homelands and enjoy the company and familiarity. The students also participated in the city's Klondike Days, a major summer festival that allowed the group to share and celebrate their rich culture. Following this event, in the early 1970s, the Society hosted "West Indian Week," which included theatre, Caribbean steel-band recitals, film festivals and artwork by Caribbean-Albertan artisans.

Continuing to share their cultural traditions, in 1986 the Western Carnival Development Association was incorporated to develop and maintain a Caribbean cultural festival in Edmonton that would involve the entire community. The celebration, Cariwest, is now a highly successful annual event, rooted in the Carnival traditions of Trinidad and Tobago immigrants. To this end, Cariwest colourfully celebrates the Caribbean-Canada community.

Traditional Carnival
Female masqueradersCarnival is a very old tradition, dating as far back as the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Modern Carnivals, such as Cariwest, are still celebrated throughout the world. The festivities are a part of a long traditionTwo dancers in Dame Loraine costumes shared by many different Caribbean peoples. Costumes and music are essential and participants perform in masquerade bands that depict various themes drawn from nearly all aspects of life. However, nothing is more important than dancing or "jumping up" and being able to enjoy oneself. 

Referenced with permission of Jean Walrond Patterson.

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