Friday 16 February 2024

CARIBANA GOING DOWN THE ROAD TO KITCHENER IN LATE AUGUST

 

CARIBANA ON THE ROAD TO KITCHENER

The City of Kitchener is gearing up for an unprecedented summer cultural extravaganza as it partners with the Caribana Arts Group to bring Caribana Ignite to the heart of the city from August 23-24, 2024. This marks a significant expansion of the iconic Caribbean carnival beyond its traditional Toronto roots.
Caribana Ignite promises to be a dazzling celebration of Caribbean culture, featuring a shift from the usual parade format to a street performance and street party spectacle. The event will showcase emerging carnival designers, the rich diversity of the Caribbean, and the vibrant essence of carnival itself.
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic expressed his excitement about the collaboration, stating, “This celebration will contribute to the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of Kitchener.” The event is expected to bring together communities, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for Caribbean traditions.
With Carl Zehr Square in Downtown Kitchener transforming into Carnival Village, attendees can anticipate an immersive experience where they can enjoy Caribbean cuisine, music, and arts. The departure from the traditional parade format aims to give festival-goers a front-row seat on the carnival runway, providing a unique perspective on the cultural explosion that is CaribanaTM.
Davina Reid, Chair of the Caribana Arts Group, expressed gratitude to the City of Kitchener for co-hosting the event and highlighted the goal of introducing the region to the vibrant culture of Caribana. Lannois Carroll-Woolery, President of the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the alignment of the event with the organization's mission of promoting the social, cultural, and economic interests of the Caribbean community.
Caribana Ignite was officially announced by Mayor Berry Vrbanovic at a special KW Titans game, accompanied by live performances from the Dance Caribe Performing Company and Acoustic Steel. As anticipation builds, event organizers encourage the community to stay updated on festival details by subscribing to www.kitchener.ca/CaribanaIgnite or visiting www.caribana.com/ignite.


Friday 5 January 2024

BRIEF NEWS CLIP FROM SWEIR RE: INNOCENCE 40 YEARS AFTER MURDER CONVICTION

Breaking news from Innocence Canada.

JAN 4, 2024 This afternoon Robert (Bobby) Mailman and Walter (Wally) Gillespie were acquitted by Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the King’s Bench Court in Saint John, New Brunswick, 40 years after they were wrongly convicted in the murder of George Leeman
 

Thursday 4 January 2024

Mailman and Gillespie will be appearing before Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the King’s Bench Court re: murder

Bench Court today 40 years after they were charged and convicted in the murder of George Leeman

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Innocence Canada is announcing that this afternoon, Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 1:30 p.m., Robert (Bobby) Mailman and Walter (Wally) Gillespie will be appearing before Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the King’s Bench Court in Saint John, New Brunswick, 40 years after they were charged and convicted in the murder of George Leeman.

 

On November 30, 1983, Mr. Leeman’s body was found by a jogger in a wooded area in Rockwood Park, Saint John.  Mr. Leeman was the victim of a significant beating, and his body was partially burned.  Mr. Leeman was living in Saint John in a rooming house when he was murdered.

 

Between January 19 and 21, 1984, the Saint John Police Service charged Wally Gillespie and Bobby Mailman with the murder.  

 

Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Mailman both had strong alibis with multiple witnesses placing them kilometers from the crime scene on the day of the murder.  Nevertheless, they were convicted of the murder on May 11, 1984.  Both were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for at least 18 years.  Not for one day since then have they wavered in insisting on their innocence.

 

Mr. Mailman who served 18 years in prison, sadly, is terminally ill.  He is 76 years of age.  He also lives in Saint John. Mr. Gillespie served 21 years of his life sentence in prison and is presently living in a halfway house in Saint John.  He is now 80 years of age. 

 

On December 22, 2023, Justice Minister Arif Virani quashed the murder convictions of both men on the grounds that there was a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in their case. The Minister directed new trials for both.

 

Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. will be Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie’s first appearance in court since the Minister’s decision. As noted, they will be appearing before the Chief Justice at 1:30 p.m. The courthouse is located at 10 Peel Plaza in Saint John. Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie will be accompanied by Innocence Canada counsel Jerome Kennedy and James Lockyer. 

  

Friday 22 December 2023

Murder convictions of Robert Mailman and Walter Gillespie quashed

Justice Minister Quashes Murder Convictions of Two New Brunswick Men Convicted of a Murder 40 Years Ago
Innocence Canada is announcing that this afternoon, Justice Minister Arif Virani quashed the murder convictions of Robert (Bobby) Mailman and Walter (Wally) Gillespie 40 years after they were charged and convicted in the murder of George Leeman in Saint John, New Brunswick.
On November 30, 1983, Mr. Leeman’s body was found by a jogger in a wooded area in Rockwood Park, Saint John. Mr. Leeman was the victim of a significant beating by one or more weapons and his body was partially burned. Mr. Leeman was living in Saint John in a rooming house when he was murdered.
Between January 19 and 21, 1984, the Saint John Police Service charged Wally Gillespie and Bobby Mailman with the murder. They also charged a third person, Janet Shatford, with the murder. Ms. Shatford subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Mailman both had strong alibis with multiple witnesses placing them far from the crime scene on the day of the murder. Nevertheless, they were convicted of the murder on May 11, 1984. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for at least 18 years. Not for one day have they wavered in insisting on their innocence.
Mr. Gillespie served 21 years of his life sentence in prison and is presently living in a halfway house in Saint John. He is now 81 years of age. Mr. Mailman who served 18 years in prison, sadly, is terminally ill. He is 76 years of age. He also lives in Saint John.
Innocence Canada has worked on their case for many years. We worked alongside Gary Dimmock, formerly a journalist with the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, now with the Ottawa Citizen. Mr. Dimmock investigated the case before Innocence Canada came to it and always believed in Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie’s innocence. He deserves great credit for his work on their case.
Innocence Canada is grateful to Minister Virani for realizing the urgency of the case and giving his decision today to quash the convictions of both men and directing a new trial. We hope Mr. Mailman will be able to appear in the King’s Bench in Saint John in the near future as a result of the Minister’s Order.
Jerome Kennedy of Innocence Canada said today:
“I want to thank Minister Virani for his decision today. It is welcome news for both Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie. Both are in their senior years and Mr. Mailman is gravely ill. This is the best news they could have, and Innocence Canada is privileged to have been helping them.”
James Lockyer of Innocence Canada said today:
“Minister Virani has stepped forward for Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie. The causes behind their wrongful convictions can be left to another day. Today is one of celebration for them.”
Ron Dalton, co-President of Innocence Canada, said:
“I spent 9 years in prison for a murder that I did not commit and much of that time I spent with Bobby Mailman and Wally Gillespie in a maximum-security penitentiary. They never gave up hope that one day justice would be done for them. Today is that day and I congratulate them on their perseverance and courage.”
Bobby Mailman and Wally Gillespie issued a joint statement today:
“It has taken 40 years. Today we are happy that justice is being done for us. Neither of us had anything to do with Mr. Leeman’s murder. We have always been innocent and we thank the Minister for what he has done.”
As a final note, the Minister’s powers to review wrongful convictions are set out in the Criminal Code of Canada. His greatest power is to quash a wrongful conviction and direct a new trial. It is a power rarely exercised but it is what he has done today for Mr. Mailman and Mr. Gillespie. The case is now in the hands of the original trial court, the Court of King’s Bench in Saint John.
For further information, contact:
Jerome Kennedy at 709-725-2966 or jkennedy@wrmmlaw.com
James Lockyer at 416-518-7983 or jlockyer@lzzdefence.ca

Ron Dalton at 709-327-6864 or rcdalton34@gmail.com 

Sunday 22 October 2023

BAIL HEARING TOMORROW FOR WOODHOUSE

 Indigenous Man Returns to the Court in Winnipeg where He was Convicted 50 Years Ago

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More than 49 years ago on March 5, 1974, Clarence Woodhouse, a young Indigenous man, and a member of the Pinaymootang First Nation on the Fairford Indian Reserve in Manitoba, was convicted of the murder of Mr. Ting Fong Chan in Winnipeg, a crime he did not commit.

 

On July 18 of this year, two of Mr. Woodhouse’s former co-accused were vindicated in the King’s Bench Court by Chief Justice Joyal in Winnipeg. A fourth accused, Clarence’s brother Russell Woodhouse, sadly died in 2011 before he could be vindicated.

 

On September 13, 2023, Innocence Canada filed an application with Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani for a ministerial review of Clarence Woodhouse’s conviction pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Code.  We also filed a posthumous application on Russell Woodhouse’s behalf with the support of his surviving sister, Linda Anderson.

 

Clarence Woodhouse, now in his early 70s, has always proclaimed his innocence but no one listened to him.  The prosecution’s case at his trial in 1974 depended on a “confession” that he was supposed to have made in fluent English despite Saulteaux being the language he spoke. Mr Woodhouse testified that he was assaulted by members of the Winnipeg Police into signing a false confession, but the trial judge and the jury disbelieved him.  Innocence Canada has now adopted his case and brought it before the Justice Minister urging him to quash his conviction.

 

Monday, October 23, 2023, will be the next step on Clarence Woodhouse’s road to vindication.  He will appear at 2:00 p.m. before the King’s Bench Court at 408 York Avenue, Winnipeg asking that he be released on bail pending the Minister’s decision. 

 

Jerome Kennedy, a Director of Innocence Canada, who has led the case for Mr. Woodhouse’s vindication, said today:

 

“49 years has been an interminable wait for Clarence Woodhouse, but he never gave up.  Tomorrow will be an extraordinary day for him, to be back in the very same court where he was wrongly convicted.”

 

James Lockyer, also a Director of Innocence Canada, who is assisting Mr. Kennedy with the case, said today:

 

Innocence Canada is privileged to be able to help Mr. Woodhouse and we will be there for him at his release hearing.”

 

For further information, contact:  

 

Jerome Kennedy at 709-725-2966 or jkennedy@wrmmlaw.com

James Lockyer at 416-518-7983 or jlockyer@lzzdefence.ca

 

Tuesday 25 July 2023

X MARKS THE SPORT AT CARIBANA PARADE

 Black Tape Or Not this Rate R Section Will Be Turning Heads on the Parade Route

By Stephen Weir The biggest question of the spring wasn't about the revealing costumes that the Rated R section will be wearing on the road at this August's Grand Parade. It was whether anyone would be brave to actually sign-up and join in.

Imagine revelers confidently dancing down the Lakeshore, cracking whips. They will be adorned in black and purple S&M-inspired fishnet costumes, with optional black X tape covering their nipples and super small silver codpieces to ensure legality. Their full-contact performance will be truly captivating.
"Yes, of course we sold out!" exclaimed Thea Jackson, the leader of the R-Rated section. "We received a fantastic response and actually have about 60% American participation, which I love. It's evident that those who choose to wear this costume are incredibly comfortable in their own skin and enjoy pushing boundaries. However, we also have some individuals who are more reserved, and for them, wearing this costume is a risk they've always wished to take. It's a beautiful thing."


The R-Section is just one of fourteen sections comprising this year's Toronto Revellers mas band. With a theme of "It's Show Time," the other sections will wear costumes that strike a balance between modesty and sensuality.
Costume production is in full swing at the Reveller's Mas Camp located at 2450 Victoria Park Ave, North York. "We are prepared to be one of the standout sections on the road," Jackson informed the Caribbean Camera. "Both masqueraders and spectators have yet to witness anything like this on the streets of Toronto... until now! In a flurry of purples and pinks, you won't be able to miss us."


While bare breasts have occasionally been exposed on the parade route in the past, this might be the first time a section, will be participating in such a manner if and it is a big if, the masqueraders opt out of wearing the supplied “boob tape” over their nipples
The members of the R-Rated group have already engaged in a group chat. The Revellers have informed them about how much they will stand out from the rest of the parade and advised them to be prepared for the attention they will receive. "We will have additional marshals on the road but do not anticipate any issues," said Jackson. "We actually have a significant number of men within the section as well, so I am confident that the ladies will be well taken care of!"
Based on reporter Weir's inbox traffic, the Rated R section has generated the most discussions in this year's Toronto Caribbean Carnival. The organizer she says she is looking forward to blowing everyone's mind this carnival and once again in 2024!

Emancipation On Bloor / Underground Toronto Train Ride

 1,000 will ride the midnight subway train

Tenth Year For the Underground Toronto Train Ride


There is a serious annual spiritual event during this Carnival season in Toronto, and it is coming down the track straight at you. The Emancipation Day "Underground Freedom Train" Ride begins on July 31st and ends early on August 1st, with over 1,000 people on board.

This year marks the tenth time that the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has partnered with the Blackhurst Cultural Centre (formerly A Different Booklist Cultural Centre) to provide an actual underground experience via its subway system, representing the underground railroad journey. This is a very emotional song filled train ride, probably Canada's largest of its kind, and open to all Canadians, for the price of token.


"The Emancipation Day 'Underground Freedom Train' Ride is symbolic of the role of the Underground Railroad within Canada's history," explained Itah Sadu, one of the founders of the event. "This train ride is a recognition of the historic date of Emancipation Day on August 1st when slavery was abolished in the British Empire. It is also a celebration of the power and potential of the peoples of African descent."

Formerly enslaved people undertook an incredible and dangerous journey in their migration to Canada, and this symbolic train ride helps keep history alive by connecting the past to the present and ultimately linking to the future.

The journey begins and ends at Union Station in downtown Toronto. It all starts at 10.30 p.m. inside Union Station with choirs, drumming, brass music, and greetings from the TTC and city officials. The train will be boarded at 11:40 p.m. The route travels along the TTC subway line to Downsview Station, where there will be music, readings, and special guests just outside of the station. The train will then return everyone back to Union Station by 12:45 a.m.

This year's conductor is Barbara Thomas, Nursing Admin Coordinator at the Toronto Western Hospital for 55 years. She is a former Board Director of the Jamaican Canadian Association, and her record of volunteerism spans over 50 years.

Also attending will be Kathy Grant, the recipient of the 2023 Emancipation Award for preserving, documenting, and curating local Black history in the city. She is the founder of Legacy Voices, an organization dedicated to the histories of Black Canadian war veterans.

The theme for the 10th anniversary is "Planting Seeds of Emancipation." Over the past years, the Emancipation Ride has planted seeds of hope and inspiration through its symbolism. This is evidenced in the attendance of all Canadians to the Ride, its innovation, and the positive relationship shared with the TTC and community organizations as event collaborators.


"During this 2023 season of Emancipation," said Sadu, "it is important to give thanks to Mother Earth for nurturing us, to thank the ancestors who came before and prepared fertile ground. Finally, to ask the question, what new seeds will Canadians plant going forward, and how soon can they break soil and cultivate?"

Passengers aboard the Emancipation Train, will be given a package of organic corn seeds to take home and plant.


Emancipation On Bloor 




Following the Underground Freedom Train ride, which ends in the early hours of August 1st, Emancipation celebrations continue with the Emancipation On Bloorwalk. That starts at 12:30pm. The walk will proceed along Bloor St form Bathurst to Christie Pits.  The public is invited to join the walk in recognition of the National Emancipation Day. The gathering place is outside the Randolph Theatre, located at 736 Bathurst Street. Participants are asked to wear white and come with wrapped heads.

Joining this year’s Emancipation on Bloor is BMO, which will make a joint announcement with the Blackhurst Cultural Centre at Blackhurst Cultural Centrelocation. The 12.00 pm announcement will precede the Emancipation Walk. 

Emancipation on Bloor is an animation of Bloor Street. The animation takes place at key intersections on Bloor from Avenue Rd, to Christie Pits with a number of artistic expressions and music.  The event commemorates an important milestone for descendants of enslaved Africans. It marks the abolition of slavery and honours the many contributions and resilience of African peoples throughout the Diaspora.