In the 50s and 60s when West Indians first came to Alberta, they were all looking for a place to gather and celebrate community. They wanted an avenue where they were able to continue to uphold their Caribbean roots through Steel Band, Calypso, and Carnival.
They wanted to take their traditions to the streets, and at that time, the only outlet was joining the Klondike Days parade. Even though they were grateful to be part of the Klondike parade, they felt like something was still missing. In 1984 Cecil T. George gathered Caribbean’s from the community and collectively created what we all know today as Cariwest- Western Canada’s Largest Caribbean Festival.
Imagine this, in the early days, the parade went down Grierson hill and the festival ended at Diamond Park! Through the years the location of the festival and parade has moved from East downtown, 124street, Westmount, Millwood and for 20 years has called Jasper Ave and Churchill Square home. Now we are at Capital Plaza and yes, the street names and locations have changed over the years, but the one constant is that our founders were PASSIONATE about our history and culture. Because of this, the culture has passed down to the future generations to share Cariwest with Edmonton and the world.
This year as we celebrate 35 years of Cariwest, we give thanks to our founding members for their vision and passion for our culture. The children of the founders are now the mas-makers, the organizers, the performers and masqueraders who are now paving the way for the next generation.