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What does Cariwest mean to me - Nandi Charles



Nandi Charles - Face of Cariwest 2019

As we celebrate 35 years in 2019, we are super proud and honored to have Nandi Charles as the Face of Cariwest 2019. We had a chance to ask her a few questions on what this experience means to her and well I will let her tell you all about in her own words.


Question: What is your first memory of Cariwest?

Nandi:

My Cariwest Story in de earlies.

Decorating the Islanders truck before the parade…

The Thursday night before the parade the excitement would hit full blast soon as I pull up in Galaxy Auto body yard and see the truck out there waiting!

Masqueraders, supporters, and family; would start strolling in after work one by one; ready to go until the night time and mosquito start chasing - to paint and nail up wood to prevent any speaker; winer; man, woman, or child; from flinging off de truck during the parade!

Friday night I cyah sleep ‘cause da is de time to cut up and tie up T’shirt to make sure it look like ah Mas!

Friday night was also the time to make a buljol for Saturday morning bake and saltfish breakfast. Parade sustenance!

On Saturday morning; right back at the yard bright and early! – is time to decorate; streamer; and banner up the truck. And once sound check start and Soca playing at de right blast level; truck riders reach; first bottle crack open - all o we READY READY!


Question: How does your Caribbean roots impact your Carnival experience?

Nandi:

I grew up in the land of Carnival; and in a family that was involved in many things Carnival. So it remains larger than life and magical for me still– my dad was a forming member in a Jouvert band and as children we couldn’t wait to get a discarded headpiece or shield from their latest creation so we could play Viking warriors one year or Zulu fighters the next!

For a time my family even lived in Woodbrook; right in the thoroughfare along the parade route...and if yuh didn’t see them before; every cousin, friend, tanty or nen nen from home and abroad, would drop in to rest; eat; and store costume.

That nice and warm feeling of reunion hits me hard and beautifully every Cariwest! To see coworkers; neighbours; friends of old and new; lining along Jasper Ave!


Question: What inspired you to also sing and who are a couple of calypsonians you admired growing up?

Nandi:

My Family is a family of roots and culture and growing up we all would tune in to TTT for Calypso Monarch!

I as a child thought one day when I get big I want to sing back up. Just like Calypsonian All Rounder’s daughters! -they looked so glamorous to me; the matching bright satin outfits, with coordinated dancing, and harmonizing fuh so!

I admired Calypsonians. Their expert deftness with the Queen’s English and how they could craft a song and hit dem hard in de politics, hit dem hard in de consciousness, and hit dem hard with some jokiness!

So, if I must choose only two they would have to be Singing Francine and The Might Shadow!


Question: How important is it to you emotionally and culturally that Cariwest is still going strong?

Nandi:

Many people can tell you they know Cariwest is close when Nandi starts making her rounds -spreading the word; selling t-shirts; helping them find a band…

Until I became involved in all things Cariwest I was a spectator of carnival. I watched everybody play Mas and eager to be a part -so to relocate to Edmonton and see the love and civic pride that led my Elders to open up their hearts fully and share the joy of our Caribbean culture; faithfully; year after year since the eighties that it is so much now an essential part of our short summer festival fabric -I had to join dis ting!

This parade born and grow here and makes me feel so proud of my city and its Caribbean roots.


Question: This year you are going to be all over Edmonton as the face for Cariwest 2019. What does that mean to you?

Nandi:

I feel so privileged to be an ambassador, if I can use such a big word; of our festival! Born and bred right here in Edmonton! It is Our Champion festival and I hope my grinning face translates how joyous a time it is! Because when I’m frolicking down Jasper Ave showing off my colours and glitter; I’m smiling and all the people and children lining Jasper; dey does be smiling too! And dancing!


Question: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in Playing Mas for the first time, but is not sure how and/or feeling shy about putting on a costume?

Nandi:

At your own pace – I started my Cariwest story in T-shirt band and then graduated to costume over clothes. “Dat much clothes Nandi!” As people would say - before I felt comfortable enough to let a little skin show.

That’s the beautiful thing about our Parade; you come as you are; every and anybody can join in the fray just as long as you like being surrounded by happy music and happy people! There is a Mas for everyone!


Would you like to join Nandi on the road this August? CLICK HERE to learn more about how you too can join the celebration and Play Mas




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Brought to you by

The Western Carnival Development Association

11230 119 STREET, EDMONTON AB T5G 2X3
780.421.7800
Cariwest@shaw.ca
Office Hour: M-F 9-5pm 
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