Diaspora

'Guyana Night' celebrates one of Minnesota's growing Caribbean populations – MPR News

When Trevor Samaroo first started the non-profit group Minnesota Guyana Day a few years ago, there weren’t many events that focused on Guyanese culture. As a child of one of the first waves of Caribbean immigrants to come to Minnesota, Samaroo grew up watching his dad create spaces for Caribbean families to gather together. He knew he wanted to do the same.
Guyana is a country located in South America that is tied to Caribbean culture through its traditions, music and food. According to the U.S. Census, there are nearly 8,000 Caribbean people living in Minnesota and Samaroo says the Guyanese community in Minnesota is growing.
While there were events celebrating communities part of the larger Caribbean region which includes Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and the Bahamas, Samaroo said the organizers of Minnesota Guyana Day wanted a space to celebrate their own unique traditions.
“Let’s do something where everyone can come out and enjoy, celebrate the culture and represent what we have here in Minnesota,” Samaroo said. “A lot of people are learning now around the country, but people in the community know that in little pockets across the state that there is a very big population here.”
This year’s event, “Guyana Night,” will take place on Saturday at the Eritrean Community Center in St. Paul. It features three popular artists from Guyana and Trinidad; Poowah Vanita Willie, Fiona Singh and Mahendra Ramkellawan — artists Samaroo says members of the community have been excited to see.
“We’re just trying to focus on this type of music that you really won't hear anywhere else in Minnesota or the Midwest. You would have to go with some of these larger populated areas like Toronto, New York, Orlando and Miami.” Samaroo said.
Samaroo says “Guyana Night” is also an opportunity for the Guyanese community to share their culture with others and make their presence known in Minnesota. The event will also feature traditional Guyanese and Caribbean food.
“As a Guyanese person, if you’re asked, ‘Where are you from? Where's your family from?’ It’s ‘Oh you’re from the Caribbean? You must be from Jamaica,’” Samaroo recalled. “The West Indies is a very diverse place and that’s why we try to educate people and represent our people to let them know we’re here.”
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