Canada Youth Day rocks Montego Bay
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
Montego Bay played host to the Canadian Kids Play and Youth Outlook (KPYO) Youth Day family festival for young people involved in the visual and performing arts last Saturday.
The event, which was held at the Dump Up Beach in the city, featured performances from mainly young people and included dancers, reggae singers, and rappers, among others.
Sixteen volunteers flew in from Toronto to help coordinate the activities.
Tylaine Duggan, founder of Youth Day, told Western Focus the event was brought to Jamaica due to the large Jamaican population in Toronto, where the KYPO is headquartered.
She said the decision was made to partner with the St James Parish Council after having dialogue with Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris who, along with several members of his council, had visited Toronto to experience the Youth Day activities there last July.
"We have an extremely large Jamaican population in Toronto. It was more about the connection between the youth in Toronto, who are mostly Jamaicans. I was thinking that since it was such a large community of (Jamaican) diaspora and I work with the diaspora in Canada, the Canada Foundation, as well as the Jamaica Canada Foundation, there was a lot of value in their heritage connection and also their international love of music. So I suggested to both mayors (of Toronto and Montego Bay) that we might embark on a brother cities official kind of situation," she said.
Youth Day objective
Duggan said the fundamental objective of Youth Day, which was conceptualised in Canada in 2007, is to channel youngsters into meaningful activities and away from a life of crime by engaging them and helping them to develop skills in music, dance, art, photography, fashion, and film.
"So it's really just trying to help these youth find a focus or redirect them into a passion, and I chose the arts because it's most affordable. I don't want to make it a reggae concert or a rap concert. It is not like that at all. There are no prizes, no winners or losers. It's a showcase," Duggan said.
"It's amazing when you find like-minded people because they understand the value in reinvesting in the youth because frankly, even if you can't do it from the bottom of your heart, do it selfishly and ask yourself, 'Who is gonna change your diapers when you are older?' These kids have to get hope; have to get employed; they have to get back into things. Scientifically, music is the only thing that occupies your whole brain at the same time. And all I say to the kids is, 'Please take up a guitar, a paintbrush - just don't pick up a gun'," she said.
Among the event's supporters were the Urban Development Corporation, the St James Parish Council, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Education, the St James Police Division, the Montego Bay Police Youth Club, the Kiwanis Club of Hopewell, the Jamaican Diaspora - Canada Foundation, and the Jamaican Canadian Association. Other organisations provided assistance were Pristine Music, Productions/True Tone, Sea Kerr, Club Ambiance, Tigress II, Chalis Car Rental, and Hi-Lo.