Tuesday 25 July 2023


 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.