Caribbean celebration shakes through Regina streets

Regina's CariSask carnival and parade is a celebration of Caribbean customs, music and food. Proud island expats danced through the streets, dressed up in colourful costumes representing their home countries.

The 10th annual CariSask Caribbean carnival paraded through Regina on Saturday

The colourful yellow, black and greens of Jamaica were on full display in the CariSask parade. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)

Regina's Caribbean population paraded through the streets on Saturday.

It's the 10th annual CariSask, a celebration of the people from the Caribbean island nations now living in Saskatchewan.

A large flatbed truck covered in flags from countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Saint Kitts drove down Albert Street from 13th Avenue to the Legislative building thumping bright soca music.

Following close behind, a colourful crowd of kids and adults danced through the streets, dressed up in feathers, beads and colours representing their nationalities.

"If we can't get to the islands we're bringing the islands to them," laughed parade coordinator Rumatu Denise Abubakar.

The weekend carnival is put on by the Saskatchewan Caribbean Canadian Association. It mimics the popular outdoor celebrations held in countries like Bahamas and Trinidad.

SCCA founding member Rudy Small wanted to show off island spirit in Regina when they started putting on the festival 10 years ago.

"You get together in unity and strength," he said. "We're all human and this life is only short, so enjoy it."

There was plenty of enjoyment going around. The festival's gotten bigger every year according to Small. The infectious rhythms and colourful Caribbean music drew a crowd on the sidewalk along Albert Street, watching the parade, taking pictures and trying their hand at a little dancing as well.

"Whether you can dance or not, you can still shake," joked Maxine Creightney. The former vice-president of the SCCA danced in the parade, dressed in the green, black and yellows of her home country Jamaica.

The only drawback of having the island celebration in Regina is the lack of a beach, she laughed.

Bringing a Caribbean party to the prairies

For Abubakar, the festival gives the proud expats an opportunity to dance and party, like they did in their home nations, but also to share their culture with non-Caribbeans.

"There's so many different ethnicities in this city and I think it's kind of interesting to know and to learn and to understand one another," she said.

Lesley Rante dressed up for the parade in bright purple, red and white feather wings and a beaded headdress.

She's been celebrating CariSask every year it's been put on, even though she's from the Phillippines.

"It's a lively culture, it's a fun culture to be with," she said. This year she brought her nephew along to experience a slice of Caribbean life.

When the parade reached its destination at the Legislative building there was more music, dancing, and of a taste of the famous foods of the region; jerk chicken, roti and patties.

Parade coordinator Rumatu Denise Abubakar (left) and SCCA founder Rudy Small dressed up for the CariSask parade. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)