This week, St. Lucia celebrates 35 years of Independence! I am from the small island of St. Lucia – 238 square miles and about 170,000 people. Apart from the majestic beauty of our island, I am inspired by the greatness of our people and the incredible talent and warmth which they bring across the globe! As a tribute to observe St. Lucia’s 35th Independence Day Celebrations on February 22nd, I am featuring 10 St. Lucians on my blog who are making a positive difference to the world in uplifting the human spirit and adding inspiration and motivation to the lives of others. (Contact me if you would like to submit the name of someone you think is truly inspiring!)
My first three INSPIRING ST. LUCIANS are Hedwick Holder, Jaimanne Leopold and Tarrah Mauricette who have teamed together to create an amazing group called Chalè in Ottawa. Chalè is a creole word meaning heat, derived from our St. Lucian creole background.
” All of our events are truly a labour of love with immense support from friends and family who volunteer their time to us. We, the founders, started this organization, first because we are good friends who work well together, but moreover because we are passionate about our Caribbean culture. We believe that the love we have for Caribbean culture can be appreciated by people of other cultures, if we present it in a wholesome, educational format that is also fun and entertaining as is characteristic of Caribbean.” Tarrah Mauricette
Last weekend, I witnessed Chalè in action as they hosted, “A Roots Rock Raggae Evening – Night of Education, Entertainment and Grooving, with special tribute to the Raggae Icons Delroy WIlson, Sugar Monott and Jacob Miller.” They also presented the great documentary, “Fire In Babylon“, which is the incredibly captivating story of the glorious domination of the West Indian cricket team who, with a combination of phenomenal skill and fearless spirit, became the longest reigning winning team in sports history. It is an attention grabbing story of the history of the West-Indies Cricket Team! Sitting in the audience, watching the film, I was completely blown away as I finally understood my roots better and the role that cricket has played in the political and social landscape of the Caribbean. This is a film which should be shown in every home and school, to build national pride. This film truly demonstrates that greatness and success can be achieved with vision, collaboration, determination, drive, focus and how we can overcome challenges. Those early West Indian cricketers left a legacy – their story inspired me to rise higher in giving to this world, all that I have, for the betterment of humanity.
The evening was classy, well organized, professional and best of all, audience were well taken care of by the many volunteers who run the evening with smiles and a friendly and welcoming attitude! At the end of the evening, everyone was treated with the most amazing Caribbean food, which was all donated by Tic-Tac Catering.
“Our mission is to always deliver an overall high quality Caribbean experience at all our events and to bring the Caribbean to the people of Ottawa.” Jaimanne Leopold.
The work of Jaimanne, Tarrah, Hedwick and the many partners and volunteers who work with them, is selfless. They work tirelessly in putting up those events because they are driven by a mission to provide a cultural experience for people from the Caribbean. From since 2012, they have put up several events in Ottawa.
“We now have an annual Reggae Tribute as part of Black History Month, presenting a carnival band for Carivibe, Ottawa’s Caribbean festival, hosting a Caribbean Carnival Soiree at the Rideau Carleton Raceway and giving rise to Caribbean Fit Fete, which is a dance fitness class to music of the Caribbean. From this we have also hosted ‘Hot and Sweaty’ parties where we workout to Caribbean music in a party atmosphere with a live DJ.” Tarrah
They have also collaborated with many other community organizations at their events such as: Children’s story telling with Jaku Konbit’s ‘Under the Mango Tree’; Contributing to One Billion Rising, Ottawa; Hosting a Caribbean carnival with the City of Ottawa’s summer wade pool program; Hosting a Caribbean carnival for the Ministry of Health’s Caribbean Day;Volunteering with the Jamaica Association;Organizing a day of activities for Ottawa’s ‘Culture Days’.
(The picture below shows the many volunteers who worked so professionally in executing a seamless event with all the professionalism you can imagine!)
Putting on events of the calibre that they aspire too requires quite a bit of time and resources, which they do not have individually. They therefore rely on many networks and collaborations to achieve their goals. They usually work on a barter system where they promote the businesses of individuals and organizations who volunteer their time and resources to us. For example, at the last event, Tic Tac catering provided the delicious food in exchange for gaining exposure to their audience.
“We have also partnered with the West Indian Student Ensemble of the University of Ottawa whose members give tremendous support as volunteers at all of our events. We are also grateful to have the support of our resident DJ, Hypnotx Soundz, as well as our webmaster Thomas Wilkinson, who donates all of his time and resources to us. We are always looking to work with people who are interested in such collaborations.” Hedwick Holder
They also have a Junior Chalè crew, made up of students 15 years and under, who assist with social media and volunteer at our age appropriate events.
The Caribbean is a melting pot of diverse cultures. Our vision is to therefore showcase more of that Caribbean culture through educational presentations, cuisine and more. It is our vision to mirror the many incredible festivals of the islands exhibiting the rich and progressive nature of the Caribbean.
(The picture below is with O’Shea Adagio, CKCU 93.1FM Vintage Love’s host, who lovingly hosted the evening)
This is another example of ordinary people doing extra ordinary things within their community. We belong to the world… our service is not limited to our country of origin. We don’t have to win the lottery to make a difference. However, I must say, that as a St. Lucian, I feel incredibly proud when I see us using our talent to contribute to the world economy!
St. Lucians – Keep on Flying High! As we celebrate 35 years of independence, let us all remember that our greatness is in our service to others!
You can also support my Ist TuneIn and StepUp Challenge by joining us for our Independence Day Gala here in Ottawa where we will further celebrate St. Lucia and St. Lucians. Read more: http://tuneinandstepup.com/2014/02/07/my-1st-tunein-and-stepup-challenge-for-2014-supporting-20-families-who-have-been-affected-by-flooding-in-st-lucia/
TuneIn to the many ways in which you can contribute to this great earth planet. StepUp and pull others with you to add value to life!
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Just in case you need more information:
For Tic Tac’s great Caribbean food, you can contact them at: 613-600-6434;Tictac_ca@yahoo.ca
The Film: Fire In Babylon can be found here: