Organizers of Montreal’s annual Carificeta parade say the event may not go ahead this summer after the city of Montreal withheld its regular funding.
In a letter sent to Carifiedsta last week, the city said it was reviewing its grant application in the context of Montreal’s updated funding program for festivals and cultural events — one that allows it to “better represent Montreal’s festivals ecosystem.” “.
“Given the quality of the applications received, the evaluation committee had to make a selection and select projects that most closely matched the program objectives. Unfortunately, your project was not selected by the committee,” reads the letter signed by the head of the cultural service. Kevin Donnelly.
In an email to CBC on Monday, the city said it denied Carifiedta’s application over issues related to the submission of the grant. Several attempts to contact the organizer were in vain.
However, Everiste Blaize, president of the Caribbean Cultural Festivities Association, which hosts the festival, said he was surprised by the decision and said he hadn’t heard from the city since submitting his application for funding in January.
He said the letter he received reads as if his festival just doesn’t fit the city’s new cultural criteria.
“I’d like someone to explain why my culture or Caribrista’s culture isn’t cultural enough to belong,” he said.
“It would be interesting to see what an ecosystem looks like when we’re not part of it.”
In the past, the city has donated about $30,000 to parade organizers each year. The parade, which celebrates Caribbean culture and history, has been held since 1974, although it was canceled in 2010 due to a conflict between two competing organizing committees. She was also absent for two years during the pandemic.
City wants to “examine possible solutions”
The city said it updated its funding program for festivals and cultural events in 2022 to support more events sustainably and improve funding criteria to better steer public funds.
It said Blaize had been notified of the changes and the city had contacted him several times, offering to help with his filing, but never received a response.
“The Carificeta project presented was deemed unfeasible in 2023,” it said, adding that there were also issues with last year’s edition of the festival that were not addressed.
The city said it will be meeting with organizers this week to discuss the issues related to the application they have submitted and “consider possible solutions.”
Blaize said he’s waiting for the city to get in touch with him, but in the meantime he’s looking at other solutions.
“We were looking for sponsors, I was trying to get help from people to help find grants,” he said.
He said he will wait until he has spoken with the city before making any further announcements to the community.
Importance of the parade in the community
Carifiedta posted the city’s letter on its Facebook page Sunday night, sparking outrage from community members in the comments.
Matthew Veloza Quiterio, president of Montreal Carnival Vibration and coordinator of Afro Pride Montreal, said he was shocked to see the city cancel funding “for a parade that represents such an important legacy of Montreal.”
“I believe this is very painful for the community and I see many communities are more discouraged at this time,” he said.
Veloza Quiterio has been involved with the festival since 2011, helping to create colorful costumes for the parade with other groups. According to Veloza Quiterio, the parade is one of the community’s best ways to represent and showcase tradition, culture, values, heritage and music.
“An event like this means a lot,” he said.
For Howard Johnson, it is a time when people from all Caribbean countries come together. “So that we can celebrate with someone from Saint Vincent, from Granada, from Jamaica, we all come together under one flag,” he said.
Johnson, a reggae artist known by his stage name King Shadrock, has performed on the last five editions of Carifiedsta. He said he knows potential participants who have been preparing for the festival for more than a year.
“The costumes that you make take a lot of time to prepare and they have young people to look forward to [taking] participate in these events,” he said.
“Please, let’s pull it together and make it happen.”
Veloza Quiterio encourages people to support Carifiedta by getting more involved.
“If you’re a local business, if you’re a big business, I think it’s important to help with sponsorship and help partner with the organization,” he said.
“It’s not a time to stay home and say ‘whatever.’ I think we need to get out as a community.”