Diaspora

'Creole Jam' showcases Haitian culture on the Parkway – Caribbean Life – Caribbean Life

Rose Guerrier, the Haitian-born creative and executive director of “Creole Jam,” says the group is seeking to showcase and clear up misconceptions about Haitian culture during the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, on Labor Day, on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.
“The message we want is to showcase Haiti and its history,” said Guerrier during a Caribbean Life interview at the mas camp at 204 Parkside Ave. in Brooklyn. “We want to showcase Haiti and its liberation, and we liberated many.
“This is the first time that the Haitian community will see their culture displayed in such a way, with authentic costumes and music of our culture,” she added.
Guerrier said all masqueraders will follow a choreographed routine.
“This is the first time we will be portraying our history on the Parkway,” she said. “Our goal is to showcase our culture and create unity in the community.
“We want to uplift the culture, uplift the morale of the community, because of the many traumas we’ve been through,” Guerrier added. “We want to put a smile on the faces of the Haitian people and on the faces of our brothers and sisters from Africa to the Caribbean.”
She said “Creole Jam” will comprise four sections, with about 50 masqueraders: Taino (Indians); Slaves; Heroes and Sheroes; and Machann (vendors).
Guerrier said Erol Josue, director of ethnology in Haiti, has travelled from Haiti to assist in the production.
“Once he learned what I’m doing, he came from Haiti and brought costumes,” she said. “And we made him the first ‘Creole Jam’ Ambassador of Culture for 2022.”

Portrait of Catherine Feon, who sewed the Haitian flag.
Portrait of Catherine Feon, who sewed the Haitian flag. Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn resident Jocelyn Gay, a member of Voix et Tambours & Haiti, Inc. (Voices and Drums of Haiti), said she’s “ecstatic” to be part of “Creole Jam”.
“This is what I do,” she said, referring to artistic performances. “That’s my life.
“It was always my dream to share my culture with the rest of the world,” added the retired social worker.

Errol Josue portrays "Jelaba."
Errol Josue portrays “Jelaba.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Edwig Timmer, “Creole Jam’s” production engineer, said the portrayal is “about changing the vision people have of Haitians on the Parkway, because, every year, they (Haitians) come in T-shirts, but they never have the costume.
“So, we’re changing the game, method,” he added. “It has to be traditional — the essence of our culture.”
Sal Balthazar – marketing strategist for DJarara, the Parkside, Brooklyn-based Haitian band that will provide rara, or roots, music for “Creole Jam” — described the production as “revolutionary.”
“A lot of times, we’ve been hiding, but ‘Creole Jam’ is coming to showcase our culture – to show that we’re not different from each other,” he said.

Jocelyn Gay portrays "Carballa Peasant Dress."
Jocelyn Gay portrays “Carballa Peasant Dress.”Photo by Nelson A. King

“What’s spicey about it is us,” Balthazar added. “We have to demonstrate everything about us. Culture drives everything. We’re building; it’s development.”
Guerrier said she was very grateful to Grenadian Derek Noel for giving the group the space to conduct its mas camp.
“Derek has been a very good friend, and he offered me the space to show the unity,” she said.

Portrait of Tante Toya, Haitian Revolutionary Leader Jean Jacques Dessalines' aunt.
Portrait of Tante Toya, Haitian Revolutionary Leader Jean Jacques Dessalines’ aunt. Photo by Nelson A. King

Noel, in turn, said: “Rose and I have been speaking about collaborating for many years.
“It’s extremely important that the economics that we’re doing is beneficial to the community,” he said.   “So, when she told me about ‘Creole Jam’, I welcomed it wholeheartedly.”
Guerrier can be reached at (347) 546-5242.
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