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Carnival Take Me Home

Written by Saira Batasar-Johnie

Sunday August 6, 2023


Growing up in a mixed household with two different but the same cultures gave me a very blessed experience. 

To have a mother who is a Muslim Guyanese person and a father who was a born Hindu/Christian Convert Trinidadian provided me with a mind of openness. Fast forward a few years where I am now a parent, I now want to share the things I love with my children that I shared as a young child with my parents, particularly my dad. My dad taught me the love of Soca, Calypso, Chutney and Indian music.  We would sit down with his cassette player with the latest tapes from Trinidad and listen to them every time he came back from a trip. The voices of the Mighty Sparrow, Sundar Popo, Anand Yankaran would be loud throughout our household.

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One thing that we shared was the love for Caribana/Carnival. I remember being a little girl and him taking me to the parade, being fascinated with all the colours and costumes and the music. I am quite surprised with myself that I did not go into the music industry considering my dad was always singing and making up songs. He would tell me that Carnival is about celebrating Freedom and creating unity for all the races within the Caribbean


I reflect on these moments, and these are the moments I loved so much with him, the time we spent together, I know he would have shared this same love for music and carnival with his grandsons and so I hope to carry this tradition with my sons.

Nekai and Nelin have regular dance parties with a mixture of music however Nekai loves to start off with the latest Soca. We dance, we giggle and have so much fun. We started participating in the Kiddie Carnival in 2022, and we had an absolute blast. We are so blessed to have an amazing group of friends who all feel the same way about keeping the culture alive, teaching our children about their history and loving where they come from, and these are the people who we participate in Kiddie Carnival with. To be around the next generation of Caribbeans, to teach them about what Carnival is and what it means to us. This year, 2023 will be the first year the boys and myself play mas at the same time. I love that they love Soca as much as I do, despite Nelin being 21 months old, anytime he hears his tune “In the Water” the man starts to do his wine squats.

Being a part of the second diaspora, living in Canada away from the Caribbean Islands we consider “home” is difficult. My husband and I were not born there, but we both feel a strong connection to those countries, and we want our children to have that same connection. It is very easy to assimilate and conform to Canadian culture and forget where your parents came from or where your ancestors came from and how hard they had to work to get to where we are today. 

That history and our culture is important and it should never be forgotten.  

I hope my sons will continue to pass down the traditions that my father passed down to me. It is up to our generation to continue to keep our culture alive by teaching the next generation, learning and unlearning the past, continuing to hold spaces for courageous conversations and loving who we are and where we came from.


About the Author

Saira Batasar-Johnie locates herself as a brown, Indo-Caribbean Canadian cisgender woman of Indo-Caribbean/South Asian Indian descent and 1st generation settler in T’karonto/Toronto, Ontario situated on the territory of the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas of the New Credit and Haudenosaunee Peoples, with recognition to "The Dish With One Spoon" wampum and Treaty 13. Saira is an author, Child and Youth Care Practitioner, Registered Social Worker,  who currently works in post-secondary as a Student Affairs Coordinator and Part-time Professor across the GTA. She is also a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Hoping to educate young people with her words, her book “Dear Divya” is the first of many and she hopes to inspire them to continue their journey of understanding themselves in this world.

Story is an Indo-Caribbean newsletter designed to bring Canadian Caribbean culture to the forefront. Explore Indo-Caribbean news, identity, and culture online.

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