A World of Independence – August 6th, 1962 – 2004

The final remnants of winter are well behind us, and with the first sprouts the new spring also signals the planning stages once again, to commemorate the significance of Jamaica’s Independence.

It’s a time of year, when Jamaican Nationals worldwide come together, the elders, the youth, their families and friends, and others representing the varied communities we all live in. It’s a time of year for celebration, for educating our youth about the past, our country’s history and heritage, with an eye on their future.

It’s a time of year, to remember the stories from our own young lives, and pass on the traditions of music, dance, culture, and food, to be remembered and repeated by those who follow us.

It’s the time of year to reflect on all that Jamaica and her people have accomplished in 42 years. How Jamaica’s contributions have affected many of us internationally. It’s a perfect time to share the beauty of Jamaica with the world, in all her magnificence, with everything she and her people have to offer.

How does your chosen community celebrate Independence? In Montreal, Quebec (Canada) Independence celebrations are presented by the Jamaican Association of Montreal during a day-long outdoor community festival (Jamaica Day) on the last Saturday of July. The park’s family geared activities generally run from 12:00 noon until 8:00 pm, and offers a small range of entertainment, food vendors (local restaurants), souvenir and craft market, children’s playground, and of course, a domino section, all of which are pretty much standard in each of the cities’s celebrations I have attended. This year, they have added to their program with a list of international entertainers an have opted to relocate their event to the grand offerings of the Blue Bonnets Racetrack -the Hippodrome, which will allow extended hours and expanded activity and market space, among other things.

In Toronto, Ontario (Canada) there are actually two celebrations: the first being a huge festival, with international and local artists, held the last Saturday of July by a private promotional group, and the second two weeks later by the Jamaican Canadian Centre. The JCC holds more official type celebrations such as an Open House with possibly a Formal Dinner and Dance or a Reception.

Ottawa, Ontario (Canada’s Capital) normally holds an outdoor festival the second Saturday of August as well, in addition to presenting an multi-denominational Independence Church Service, in celebration and thanksgiving of Independence on a different level. As the host city for the High Commission for Jamaica to Canada, our entertainment program is a little more developed by including Maypole Dancers, Gospel, traditional Poetry Reading / Skits although we don’t normally have the funding to accommodate headliners.

While touring England, the Canada Domino League was invited to participate in a tournament hosted by the Anglo-Caribbean Domino League during their Independence Festival sponsored by Western Union…. of course it proved to be an extremely wet day, and the domino tent was definitely cozy, but the rain didn’t dampen our spirits (nor the quality and success of our match), everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves!

Most importantly, and regardless of the geography and the weather, the day is blessed with that which Jamaica and Jamaicans are known for. A day of strength, pride, community and the richness of the culture as the High Commissioner’s Office delivers the Prime Ministers’ Independence Message.

How does your community celebrate Independence? Don’t be shy, send in your story and photos! Be sure to check our Events Calendar and Feedback & Public Service Announcements Forum for events in your area!