Carnival Kids take playing mas' seriously
July 21, 2017
For Caneisha Edwards, it was the perfect end to a stellar junior carnival career
Playing mas’ since age four, the charismatic Grade 10 student captured the Junior Queen title at this year’s Toronto Caribbean Carnival showcase at Woodbine Shopping Centre in Rexdale last Sunday.
The event was moved indoors because of the threat of thunderstorms.
The location didn’t matter to Edwards, the runner-up last year to Carnival Nationz Kaia Cassells who was third.
“I just love doing this with all my heart and it’s so satisfying to be a winner,” said the 15-year-old who is the product of Trinidad & Tobago parents. “This is one thing that I do in the summer that gives me so much joy because it brings me and my family and friends together. I get the ‘Trini Jumbie’ in me and I just go out there and have a lot of fun.”
Edwards, who portrayed ‘Beijia-flor - The Samba Queen’ for Tribal Carnival, plans to take a break next year before moving up to the senior category in 2019.
“I just can’t wait to make the move to the next level,” she said. “That has always being my dream.”
Toronto Revellers’ Jahzara Brown-Francis, who portrayed ‘Bassez Down in Guadeloupe’, was the runner-up
Though he shared the Junior King title with Marven Lee in 2016, Evan Murphy surprised first-time band leader Hayden Joseph of Venom with his winning performance this year.
“This boy shocked the living daylight out of me,” said Joseph who was with Carnival Nationz for the past 12 years and teamed up with veteran masquerader Wade Madray to design the enormous scorpion that won the 2014 Trinidad & Tobago Carnival King crown. “I really didn’t know he was that energetic because he’s very quiet and unassuming in the mas’ camp. He put on a great show and was duly rewarded.”
Murphy, who portrayed ‘The Centipede Bite’, is a three-time Junior King contestant.
“The costume wasn’t too heavy and it moved well,” he said.
Entering Grade Eight next semester, the 13-year-old loves the carnival atmosphere.
“I like the music and excitement,” said Murphy who represented Toronto Revellers last year and enjoys playing basketball and listening to music.
Amari Balroop of Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club and Shaleel Griffith-Ross of Toronto Revellers were second and third respectively.
Amari Bowen-Otchere of Tribal Carnival won the Junior Male Under 10 and 16 crowns for portraying ‘The Peacock Prince’ while Elias Dasque and Avery Lackpathia-Knight were second and third in both categories.
Reeyana Singh of Carnival Nationz, who portrayed ‘A Tribute to Women in the Military’, clinched the Junior Female crown in the Individual Under-16 division ahead of Makeda Joseph Brereton and Jade White who captured the Under-10 title.
Myauna King and Marietta Jacob were second and third respectively in that category.
New parade operations manager Gerard Weekes conceived the idea for the young people to have a separate show to be judged.
“This was an opportunity for the kids to get the same kind of treatment as the adults who have their big night two days before the parade,” said Festival Management Committee chief executive officer Denise Herrera-Jackson. “Three days prior to the event, we made the decision to take the show indoors because of the weather forecast. Despite the change, the youths had a great time with their families and everything worked out well.”
For Latavia Beckles, the opportunity to show off her costume couldn’t come sooner.
“I designed it and put it together,” said the West Humber Collegiate Institute student and two-time Junior Queen contestant. “I was so eager to let the judges and spectators see it.”
Playing mas’ is a fun experience that Sunlime mas’ band player Kane Grant relishes.
“For me, it’s all about having a good time and showing off the costume to the best of your ability,” said the Grace 10 student whose favourite subject is science.
Etobicoke North councillor Michael Ford joined Mark Itwaru, the chief executive officer of the carnival title sponsor Peeks Social, in presenting the awards.
“The energy and enthusiasm of the young people and audience was unbelievable said Ford. “Events like these showcase the abilities of our young people who will build up carnival and our community for years to come.”
The junior carnival parade and family day takes place on Saturday, July 22 in Scarborough.