Written by Rebecca Dass & Felicia Gopi
“I played my music, and I felt very happy”— Making waves as a DJ, Reyaz has proved that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a wholehearted love for what you do. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the 25-year-old on National Down Syndrome Day (March 21) to chat about his experiences.
We all know how much music is a huge part of Indo-Caribbean culture. The uplifting energy that comes with hearing a DJ blast soca and dancehall music at an event is one of the key moments that inspired Reyaz to learn more about his craft. Located in Etobicoke, Ontario, Reyaz started to DJ in 2017 when he saw another DJ perform at a party. “I was at my cousin's 16th birthday and I saw the DJ playing, so I wanted [to do the same],” he says. You can see his eyes light up as he recalls the moment he was inspired to pursue his passion for music. ...Read More
Written by Claire-Ania Virgile
Each year on May 6th, Martinique commemorates “Indian Arrival Day,” honoring the arrival of Indian indentured laborers to the French Caribbean. Various waves of immigration and deportation of men and women have contributed to make the Caribbean an intercultural space where syncretism is often manifested. After the violent enslavement of people from Africa and the abolition of slavery, thousands of South Asians Indentured laborers were brought to work in the sugar cane plantation in the Caribbean. These laborers were called by the derogatory term ‘coolie’. Under obscure conditions, they were often tricked, forced, mistreated and abused. As a result, most of them never physically returned to their homeland but still kept a deep emotional attachment to India, which was subsequently passed on to their children.
Thus, since the mid-nineteenth century (1853) officially, the Indian population (mainly Hindus) had an indelible impact on the social and cultural history of the Martinican culture. This hybrid cultural identity between African-descendants and Indo-descendants is defined as “Indianité.” The presence of Indian descendance is particularly visible during “Indian Day” which aims to promote the ancestral heritage through dances, culinary experience and religious rituals. Even with its discreet presence, nowadays, more people reclaim this branch of their origins without any shame. Indeed, those who used to practice Hindu-Caribbean rituals were equated with evil. The previous generation created a syncretic faith combining Christianity and Hinduism. Three languages are spoken: Creole, French and rarely ancient Tamil in one place. For example, according to some believers the goddess “Mariamman” (popular Hindu deity in South India) refers to the “Virgin Mary.” It was a way to preserve their practices despite the social restrictions. ...Read More
Written by Felicia Gopi
Colourism is hardly a new concept that people of colour have had to face from those within and outside of our communities. Aside from the social implications that come from ignorant remarks and the inherent ways in which folks with darker skin tones are discriminated against in their daily lives, there also exists a system of capitalism that profits off of our man-made insecurities with regards to the colour of our skin.
Skincare products boast a number of different benefits that can help us improve our confidence and make us feel more beautiful and comfortable in our own skin. Among those “benefits”, there still exists a number of products from a host of suppliers, ranging from independent brands all the way up to luxury beauty houses that we’re all quite familiar with, that offer to whiten the colour of our skin. ...Read More
Written by Rebecca Dass
Vishal Sharma is a 32-year-old academic in Sanskrit Literary and Cultural History at the University of Oxford. As one of the original members of the Indo-Caribbean Canadian Association (ICCA), Vishal joined in 2021 as a regular contributor for the heritage and historical posts. He currently holds the title as the Treasurer at ICCA. I got the chance to chat with him about his experiences of studying in India, grappling with what identity means, and the importance of getting to know your roots.
“Discussing with Ryan [Singh] at the time, he had this germ of an idea for an organization that would do multiple things and eventually grow into something bigger,” he says. “One of the things was to raise awareness about what it actually means to be Indo-Caribbean, to different audiences groups of people, including people from India who don’t completely understand the culture. That really resonated with me and I thought this would be a good idea and opportunity, and I could put some of my work to use.”...Read More
Written by Rebecca Dass
May marks Asian Heritage month in Canada, where it is a time to honour the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Asians (and yes– that includes South Asians too)! What better way to start the month by sharing Indo-Caribbean stories? It is a history that is often overlooked and neglected in mainstream Canadian society. However, these stories are an integral part of the Asian Canadian narrative, and it is crucial to recognize and celebrate them.
This month also carries an important meaning for the descendants of Indentured Indians, with “Indian Arrival Day” being celebrated all throughout the Caribbean and Fiji during May. ...Read More