Canadians Learning About Maroon Culture


Canadians are learning about Maroon culture and history from the Charles Town Maroons from Portland, who have been in the North American country since July 30.
The 10-member group of dancers and drummers is in Canada at the invitation of the Jamaican High Commission to take part in Emancipation and Independence celebrations. They have conducted workshops in Ottawa and Toronto, and are now in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
While in Ottawa, the Maroons were excited to perform with drummers from the African nation of Burundi. “It was fantastic!” head of the group, Colonel Frank Lumsden, told JIS News.
“It was like we had practised together as a group and always drummed together. It was very easy to combine our drumming patterns,” he gushed.
In Toronto, the Charles Town Maroons entertained at the annual ‘Island Soul’ festival at Harbourfront Centre; participated in a church service to mark Jamaica’s 47th anniversary of Independence; and performed at Jambana, formerly called Air Jamaica Day.
While in Halifax, they will be re-tracing the steps of the nearly 600 Maroons, who were banished in 1796 to that Canadian province by the British colonial Government.
“This will be an emotional experience for us because this is where the Maroons ended up and built the Citadel,” Colonel Lumsden told JIS News.
“We will be performing and having workshops with different groups,” he noted further, informing that during the sessions, the Maroons will explain drumming, language, and the importance of ring games and storytelling to the culture.
Colonel Lumsden said that the trip has been an “extraordinary experience” for the members of the group, many of whom were travelling outside of Jamaica for the first time.
He said that the trip is an indication that Maroon culture is not dead, but alive and evolving. “This is a re-birth. There are so many people, who are not aware of maroon culture and what we are doing is educating them,” he stated.
Colonel Lumsden told JIS News that it is not only Canadians, who need to be educated about the Maroons but also Jamaicans, many of whom claim that Maroons have become disconnected from their roots. “It is time for people to stop seeing Maroon culture as a dead culture; it is very much alive,” he stressed.
He noted also that through the trip, “we see the possibility of the drummers being able to make a living from drumming and becoming self-sufficient”.
The Charles Town Maroons are expected to return to Jamaica on August 10.

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