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Jean Walrond-Patterson

Jean Walrond-Patterson was born in Port Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago. Port Fortin is an oil town not unlike other oil towns such as Fort McMurray, Alberta. Her mother's family originally came from French speaking Greneda before settling in Arima, Trinidad. Although the official language of Trinidad and Tobago is English, Jean's mother spoke mostly French Patois until she entered school. Jean's father's family was originally from Barbados. Her grandfather had moved the family to Trinidad because there Jean Walrond-Patterson was a demand for his expertise as a sugarcane panboiler. Jean's father worked as a pharmacist for Shell Trinidad in Port Fortin as well as traveling to oilfield outposts such as Penal and Rio Claro.

Due to her father's position with Shell Trinidad, Jean's family received certain privileges such as a telephone, inexpensive company housing, and access to the Shell Savannah Club.

Very important to her family, Jean was exposed to music and carnival at an early age. On visits to her grandmother's house, she used pound away at the piano and listen to her cousins, who played in the "Proud Rebels Steel Orchestra," rehearse their steel pans. Her Aunt Clemmie even used to host an annual Kiddies Carnival. At home, Jean's family would listen to the Dimanche Gras show on Carnival Sunday night and she would never go to bed until she found out who was crowned Carnival King and Queen. They also regularly attended J'ouvert, Kiddies Carnivals, and the "Parades of the bands" competitions. In her own words, Jean recalls a memorable Carnival experience:
My most vivid memory was seeing George Bailey's band "Somewhere in New Guinea" coming through the Savannah at 4:00 p.m. on Carnival Tuesday. I was, as they say, "blown away" by the beautiful combination of blues and greens, reds and yellows, on the plumed head pieces that fluttered in the afternoon breeze. Oh, what the glow of the setting Sun had done to this spectacular portrayal of Bailey's interpretation of some mythical place in South East Asia!
At the age of eleven, Jean's family moved to San Juan and then again when she was a teen to Valsayn Park, Trinidad. In 1968, Jean left Trinidad for Montreal to study Statistics and Economics at Sir George Williams University. There, she met and married Michael Patterson who was originally from Guyana. She also finished University and had two children. In Montreal, Jean became aware of Carnival events in Toronto and even New York but none compared to what she remembered from back in Trinidad.

Jean Walrond-Patterson and Husband Jean's family moved from Montreal to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1975 and then to Edmonton in 1978. When Edmonton's Cariwest festival began in 1985, Jean initially remained skeptical about it too. However, by 1992, a Trinidadian client of her small business convinced her to finally participate. Jean had a wonderful time and despite all the Carnival she had experienced as a child, this was the first time she had actually ever played mas'. So intrigued with the experience, Jean documented the Carnival experiences of people in both Edmonton and in Trinidad for Masters thesis at the University of Alberta. Finished in 1999, the work is entitled "Caribbean Canadians Celebrate Carnival: Costumes and Inter-Generational Relationships." It is with her gracious permission that we have utilized many of her beautiful images and information for this section.

Source information courtesy of Jean Walrond-Patterson

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