On October 26th, 2013, St. Lucia celebrated it’s annual Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) which is a festival, celebrated across the island since 1984. In Ottawa, we were very proud of the St.Lucia Ottawa Association for organizing the festival and ensuring that everything was in place so that St.Lucians and their guest from around the world, had a memorable experience. It was a great crowd – a mix of children and adults and the elderly, most dressed in something which symbolized their loyalty to our beautiful island of St.Lucia.
The day was filled with traditional foods and entertainment. Vendors lined up against the walls promoting their businesses and the kitchen was busy with a dedicated group of people cooking goodies from St.Lucia. There was an entertaining show put on in the afternoon which was hosted by two nationals, Toni and myself.
The president of the St. Lucia Ottawa Association, Mr. Raymond Peterkin, encouraged St. Lucians to be part of the Association and to support the activities for us to create a more vibrant Association in Ottawa.
The vice-president, Noella Charles, ensured that event was properly coordinated and supported all the various activities of the day. She is well-known in the community and recently received an award from the United Way in Ottawa, for her work and dedication to community service.
Mr. Michael Willius, the Consul General of Toronto, came to support the activities of the Association and celebrate Jounen Kwéyòl with the community. He motivated the audience by sharing the history of Jounen Kwéyòl and the importance of it to our cultural heritage. Visitors travelled from Montreal, New York and Toronto to support the event – it was so much fun reconnecting with some people I had not seen for many, years!
Jaunty, our local celebrity musician who won Road March King four times in St.Lucia and who currently lives in New York, blessed the audience with a few of his songs, which had great relevance to the festival. He later performed again that evening during a dance and got the crowd going with his ever favourite hit, “Bobolis”.
Eric Sarah blessed us with some amazing African drumming, where he got the crowd engaged with him. He is a young university graduate and has a deep passion for drumming. He runs his own business and teaches others how to drum!
“Memories of St. Lucia”, a creole story telling drama, was written and performed by Mr. Eurick Charles, who dramatically acted out his poetry as he walked the audience down memory lane with what the “good old life” looked like in St. Lucia, many, many years ago! He too had the crowd rocking with some of our favourite songs such as “It was under the coconut tree…” A song which brings back the sweetness of young love and a mother questioning her daughter about how she got pregnant… back then, so much of the romance happened in the small secluded places like under a coconut tree…. along the beach side. In the picture below, the young girl dramatizes what happened under the coconut tree!
Esther Charles, a budding poet, recited some of her poetry to the crowd.
There were outstanding performances by young children and adults from the by Cultural Arts Studio School of Afro-Caribbean Dance and an amazing fashion show by Sarah Charles Watermarked Designs and Helen Glasgow. The display of St. Lucia National wear and the wob dwiet were amazing! It makes us proud that both Sarah and Helen have been able to keep and promote this part of our culture in Ottawa.
Below are only a few of the great array of beautiful dresses designed by Sara Charles, a St. Lucian national who has made a name for her brand in Canada.
Helen Glasgow below, one of the long standing members of the St.Lucia Association, has been creatively designing various styles for our national wear in Ottawa. She had a fabulous set of designs modelled at the festival.
The dancers below electrified the crowd with hot and sizzling African and Caribbean music. Their performance was professional, captivating and very well choreographed!
In between the show, we engaged the crowd with creole jokes, games and prizes.
Living away from home brings great moments of nostalgia when you wish you could in your home country celebrating special festivities and events. Our home countries have strong emotional ties in our hearts and this is why those of us who live abroad for the most part, try hard to organize activities to keep the spirit of our culture alive, to help our children gain exposure to a part of their heritage and also expose our friends here to experience a part of our culture.
No matter where you are in the world, there is something about connecting to your heritage which is sacred. TuneIn to understanding more about your culture and how it has shaped you over the years. Even though you have never been in your home country, you will be surprised to see how your mind and heart can suddenly connect, when you actually do connect authentically to your roots. StepUp and participate in activities to support your home country. YOU can make a difference and make your home country proud.
Congratulations to the St.Lucia Ottawa Association! Here are the names of the current executive /committee members who worked so hard to host this fabulous Jounen Kwéyòl Day. Let us keep on promoting those amazing opportunities for all St.Lucians and others to connect to our history and culture.
For upcoming activities from the St.Lucia Ottawa Association, please see the website at http://www.stluciaottawa.com/
Magdalene Cooman-Maxwell is from St.Lucia and currently lives in Ottawa. She blogs as a hobby but blogs ONLY for things which will bring inspiration and help make our lives better. You can follow her blog or share it with others to continue the flow of good thoughts into the world.