Connected to Culture and Community
For as long as Diandre Douglas can remember, Folklorama has been a part of her life. Both of her parents spent years volunteering at the Africa-Caribbean Pavilion, and they passed their passion for their culture and commitment to volunteerism down to their daughter.
“My parents raised me as a Jamaican first, and a Canadian second,” says Douglas. “When I was in middle school, my mom told me that volunteering was a great way to learn about my culture and share it with others, too. She told me that whenever given the opportunity to volunteer or give back, I should take it. So, I did.”
Douglas first lent a hand at the ice cream stand in the Pavilion, which opened doors for future opportunities. In high school, she was chosen to represent the Africa-Caribbean Pavilion as Youth Ambassador.
“It was an amazing experience. I got to go to so many amazing pavilions and experience so many awesome cultures,” recalls Douglas. “I knew I wanted to do it all over again. After I turned 18, I was chosen as an Adult Ambassador, too. I hope to one day be an ambassador again.”
Despite the countless hours that go into setting up the Pavilion and the bittersweet feelings that come with taking down décor at the end of the week, it’s all made worthwhile for Douglas by those in-between moments: seeing the Pavilion’s beloved Prince Jojo do the limbo under a bar of flames, the cultural display, the delicious food prepared by Afro-Caribbean elders who put their heart and soul into the dishes made, and the African/Caribbean market with merchants selling beads, incense, and cultural attire.
For Diandre Douglas, being an active part of that community means everything.
“I would tell anyone wanting to volunteer to go for it! I never imagined I would have the journey that I’ve had when I started counting change at the ice cream stand, and now it just seems like a part of me. It is a part of my cultural experience as a Jamaican-Canadian woman, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Change the end to a Thank you, Diandre and the many other volunteers for making Folklorama a reality.