This week, we have one of the masterminds behind the Canada-based African festival, Bring On The Sunshine. She is the BOTS Artistic Director and founder, Jacqui Terry-Carroll.
Jacqui grew up in Zimbabwe, and is very keen with her roots and upbringing in Africa. With a background in Fine Arts, Jacqui has always had the knack for bringing people together for things that matter. As an African-Canadian currently based in Ontario, she has worked on non-profit fundraising, education, and other advocacies focused on African culture and heritage.
Coming to Canada, Jacqui noticed that the African youth in their community did not know where they fit in terms of being African. They did not feel connected to their heritage, and were not even proud of it. This drove Jacqui to partner with an organization called Adventure For Change and start the African Camp. This camp was a one-week day camp open to African children, children of African descent, and children interested in African culture. Children in the African camp were exposed to people of African heritage who are working professionals and important members of the community. This experience aimed to change the mindset of the African youth about their heritage, and even teach them leadership.
The success of the African Camp led to an idea of getting people together to celebrate the diverse culture, music, and arts on Family Day. They soon realized the amazing reach and influence of their advocacy when 750 people showed up at the their first event! This was the birth of Bring On The Sunshine festival. Now at their 9th year of celebration, BOTS hosts an audience of about a thousand each year, and continually growing. The festival features a full musical stage line up, a marketplace with diverse and artisan items, and workshops such as drumming and dance. Each year there is a unique auction showcasing some of the artistic talent of Africa. Bring On The Sunshine festival, as Jacqui would describe it, is for Africans to "be all of who you are," to have confidence living in Canada, and to realize their opportunities.
"When you grow up in somewhere like Zimbabwe, we were surrounded by smart, educated, talented, ambitious, creative black people. That was normal. When people move here, there's not always a space for them to be that person, even if that's who they were back home. So, if I'm finding storytellers in the community, I'm giving them this opportunity to share this gift to open up culture to young people and beyond."
Jacqui also talks about the struggles of being African-Canadian, but also the opportunities this brings her. She embraces her role to be a bridge builder among cultures, opening doors for communication. With their advocacies being completely volunteer driven, she talks about her dream to expand BOTS, and the sustainability of the African Camp.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN
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