Montreal’s Carifiesta denied funding for parade by city

“It's a slap,” said Everiste Blaize, CCFA president, about the City of Montreal denying permission and funding for the 47th annual Carifiesta. Many community members are disappointed. Brittany Henriques reports.

By News Staff

Organizers for the long-running Carifiesta parade in Montreal say the city is denying them funding for their annual event – about $30,000. The event was scheduled for July 8.

In an Instagram post, they explain, “you may have seen social media posts circulating from others concerning Carifiesta 2023. […] Unfortunately, the application for the parade was not retained.”

First established in 1974, Carifiesta celebrates Caribbean culture in Montreal.

The parade’s organizing committee says they received a letter from the city saying they were not selected for the funding, which barely covers their costs for the event.

“To tell me that we don’t fit under the cultural ecosystem of Montreal,” said Everiste Blaize, CCFA president, to CityNews in an interview on Monday afternoon. “It’s a slap, it’s hard.”

“I’m disappointed. This is a festival that dates back to the 70s. It has strong ties to the community and there are members of the community that look forward to this event year after year. To hear that it’s not happening, it’s sad,” said Caribbean Montrealer Shavohna George-McDonald.

“Given the quality of the applications received, the evaluation committee had to make choices and select projects that most closely align with program objectives. Unfortunately, your project was not selected by the committee,” says the letter from the city, shared by Carifiesta. And it ends by saying that the decision “does not constitute a negative judgment of your organization.”

“It’s like someone telling me you’re Black, but not Black enough. You understand what I’m saying? What does that look like, what is culture, how does one define culture?” asked Blaize. “Are we talking about ethnic culture, are we talking about parades of events like what ecosystem of culture are we talking about? I would really really like to know that. Because the people that are making these decisions, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them at a Carifiesta parade.”


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A post shared by Montréal Carifiesta (@carifiesta)

In an email response to CityNews, the City of Montreal says they recognize that, “a unifying event celebrating Caribbean cultures is important for Montreal and reiterates its offer to support the festival.”

They say a meeting will be held with the festival organizers this week to share with them the issues related to the request they have submitted and to explore possible solutions. “In addition, the City is reiterating its offer of support for future applications to its programs.”

They explain that in 2022, the city overhauled its various support programs for festivals and cultural events. “The objectives of this redesign were to support more cultural events, throughout the island, many of them diverse, by giving them access to clear and predictable programs. A second objective was to structure the funding criteria, with a view to good governance of public funds.”

The City of Montreal tells CityNews that, “Carifiesta was invited to submit a project under the Festivals and Cultural Events Support Program (FCESP) – Stream III. The promoter was notified of these changes in advance and the City contacted him on several occasions to assist him in submitting his project. The promoter did not respond to the City’s offer of support.”

All projects submitted under the PSFEC are analyzed by a jury made up of two internal members (City of Montréal staff) and two external members (professionals from the cultural and event sectors). The applications submitted are analyzed and compared with each other according to the results obtained.

“Following the analysis and recommendations of the jury members, the City of Montréal had to make choices and select the projects that most closely matched the objectives of the PSFEC.”

The City of Montreal provides funding to organizations that are likely to be able to implement an event in a viable manner based on realistic budget projections and a history of good governance. “The Carifiesta project as submitted was not deemed viable in 2023, and the issues experienced in 2022 were not addressed by the proponent.”

The 2013 Carifiesta parade underway in Montreal’s downtown core, July 6, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mario Beauregard

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