Saint Lucia Ottawa Association Newsletter - December 2016

Happy Holidays

It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by and we are already celebrating the holiday season. By all accounts, your Executive Committee has been working tirelessly to ensure the years events and those coming in 2017 are in line with your expectations.  Since the Executive Committee Meet & Greet, held on Aug, 28th and designed to celebrate the Executives’ commitment to SLOA members and the community at large; we enjoyed a highly successful Jounen Kwéyòl on October 22nd and National Day celebrations on December 10th and 11th respectively.  Many thanks to all those who helped us to honour Saint Lucian traditions and culture.

Along with SLOA hosted events we supported celebrations held by our sister Associations; namely, the Barbados 50th Independence Gala, the St. Vincent & Grenadines Independence Gala, the Trinidad & Tobago Independence Dinner & Dance, Trinbago Day, and T&T’s Soca Parang Lime. We supported the SVGOA and Guyanese Associations summer picnics as well as the Jamaica Ottawa Association Heroes Gala. We applauded the literary works of fellow Saint Lucian Shery Alexander Heinis during her poetry reading.  We participated in Saint Lucian native Karlyn Percil-Merceica’s 3rd Annual SisterTalk event in Toronto.

Your Executive Committee is dedicated to bringing you events, activities and information that serve to celebrate being Saint Lucian in the Canadian context. We are blessed to live in a City that not only allows for the celebration and honouring of ones heritage but also embraces these experiences. We will leverage this opportunity well into 2017.

I am sure that for many of you 2016 was a year of change, success, personal and professional challenge and, hopefully, a year of growth.  While things were likely at times overwhelming and change was something you likely had enough of…life continued, it didn’t wait for us to be in a better place when we lost someone special in our lives or faced personal crisis with our health or that of a family member. Life did not necessarily tell us how to feel as some of us welcomed new additions to our families, made new connections and found opportunities. One thing is for sure through these experiences we become better people and as our strength is tested, we grow stronger.

There is no greater gift than to be surrounded by the love of family and to be filled with the spirit of community during the holidays. Throughout the holidays I hope that you have an opportunity to reflect on the gift of time, love, and family. The entire Executive Committee along with our respective families wish you, your family and friends the very best of the holiday season. We wish you health, happiness, the ability to be present in the life you have, the courage to work for the life you want and that you make something extraordinary of the ordinary.

Happy Holidays and the very best of 2017!

Toni Francis
SLOA President

“You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”

Jounen Kweyol 2016

Jounen Kwéyòl celebrates the French/African dialect widely spoken in the West Indian island of Saint Lucia. This event has grown to be the biggest single event celebrated by the people of Saint Lucia.  The development of the festival is really the story of St Lucia’s acceptance of its heritage, particularly its kwéyòl language.  The celebrations of Jounen Kwéyòl take place at the national and community level, and can include a parade, music festival and a pageant for women over 50, in which contestants demonstrate knowledge of creole culture, use of the language, national wear and creole related talent.  Notably, today most of the original kwéyòl language has been lost. There is more awareness and pride in the language today than years ago when speaking kwéyòl was frowned upon. The kwéyòl language is now taught in Saint Lucian schools and is standardized with a writing system, alphabet and dictionary. Saint Lucian radio stations broadcast shows entirely in kwéyòl, something unheard of 20 years ago. Pride in the language has translated into pride in cultural practices and traditions.

On October 22nd the Saint Lucia Ottawa Association (SLOA) hosted its annual celebration of the creole language and the cultural traditions of the “Helen of the West”, Saint Lucia. Jounen Kweyol 2016 was held at the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre. The community of support was overwhelming.  The day held a mix of creole (kwéyòl) food, music, musical performances, games and folklore, the battle of La Woz (Rose) and La Magawit (Maguerite). Designer Helen Glasgow put on a fashion show to highlight the traditional madras and a number of formal and informal traditional outfits comprised of colorful skirts, embroidered blouses and a triangular piece of satin over the shoulder. The dance performances included a powerful duet by students of the Cultural Arts Studio, School of Afro-Caribbean Dance and a folksy blend of African movements and ballroom dancing called kwadril, derived from the European quadrille. 

The youth corner was organized and led by a vibrant SLOA Youth Committee.  Children had their designated space to create works of arts and play with craft options that held lessons about the kwéyòl language and Saint Lucian traditions.

Volunteer cooks prepared dishes, homemade breads, cakes and pastries whose taste of tradition filled the space with a sense of home.

SLOA Vendor Program was supported by the Afro-Caribbean Cotillion, a mentorship program for girls of Afro-Caribbean descent, Never Give Up clothing line, the Charles Family, Berdeena, Carole and Esther Charles brought their artistic and creative talents to the event, the Saint Lucia Tourism Board, Caribbean Fit Fete, and Gems of Saint Lucia.  Networking opportunities were leveraged by the Vendors to educate event attendees on their products and services.  The importance of community was reinforced by their presence.

More impactful than the official program for the day was the energy that filled the room, the ‘informal’ program created organically by those in attendance.  With its largest turn out in the history of this event the SLOA Executive Committee is extremely grateful to the community, including members of the Saint Lucia Toronto Association and the Saint Lucia Montreal Association, for its support. Guests were reflective of the demographic reach that is key to the SLOA's strategic focus for the next year; they included the youth of our community to the elders, who are highly respected group in Saint Lucian tradition.

Jounen Kwéyòl 2016 set the stage and tempo for what was to come for the SLOA.  Given the resounding support of the community the Association is dedicated to creating a base that thrives on collaboration, incorporates components that resonate across demographics in our community and continues to foster the education and celebration of Saint Lucian traditions and culture.

Special mention and many thanks to the Entertainment Committee, Lebert Francis, Maggie Rolle, Helen Glasgow, Marcelle Mitchell, all under the leadership of Nathalie Peterkin-Campbell, for a very successful event.

National Day 2016

National Day marked the beginning of the Christmas season. Traditionally the celebration of National Day involves numerous religious, cultural, sporting, social, and commercial activities. At this time of year Saint Lucians enjoy the National Festival of Lights and Renewal, the National Festival of Choirs, a festival of bands, and market festival.

On December 10th our hard working Youth Committee hosted a Children’s Holiday Party. Many thanks to those who entrusted the Youth Committee with care and entertainment of their children for an afternoon of crafts, treats and a visit from that special guest from the North Pole.

Congratulations to our Youth Committee members, Shari Gabriel, Alana Aimable-Brathwaite, Meloney Thomas, Lorna Polius, Kira Cruickshank, Noah Holder, and Gilda Melchoir.

The day ended with our Volunteer Appreciation Night, a celebration held to honor and thank our many volunteers who make every SLOA event possible. Volunteers were celebrated and hopefully felt the extension of our gratitude for the vital role they play in our community.

On Sunday December 11th we closed our National Day weekend with a church service and reception at St. Theresa Catholic Church.

Many thanks to Helen Glasgow, Past Treasurer, for her support in making National Day a reality.


Looking Forward to 2017

38th Independence Gala

38th Independence Gala

Theme: “Where So Ever You May Roam…”

On Saturday February 18, 2017 we will celebrate Saint Lucia`s 38th year of independence. The Independence Gala will be held at the Shaw Centre, 55 Colonel by Drive.

We will honour some well-deserved champions in our community and be entertained by Jerome Daniels and Rufus Emmanuel, a Creole Folklore Group, Poet, Shery Alexander Heinis, and feature artist, GOZILAY.

Tickets are on sale now, $75 for early bird purchase, until January 15th, $80 effective January 16th.

Members pay $75.

We look forward to seeing you on February 18th!

Happy New Year! 2017

In Memoriam: Marie Leonie Lucretia Peterkin, mother of Nathalie Peterkin-Campbell, Treasurer and Entertainment Committee Chair and Past President, Raymond Peterkin

Contact Us

If you have any questions, concerns, ideas, and/or would like to be involved in a specific event or activity please do not hesitate to contact the Association. You can reach us via email, at

Your Executive Committee Members:

Toni Francis – President

Adriana Eanga – Vice-President

Alana Aimable-Brathwaite – Secretary & Youth Committee

Nathalie Peterkin-Campbell - Treasurer & Chair, Entertainment Committee

Marshall Celestin – Public Relations Officer

Lebert Francis - Floor Member & Entertainment Committee