From Caribana in Toronto to Ottawa’s Reggae Festival, cultural influences from Jamaica have been oozing through Canadian borders for quite some time. To add to this growing ebb of cultural reverberations, Jayecan decided to launch its first international chapter in Canada.
With aid from one of our island’s informal cultural ambassadors, and recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, Darynel Beckford, we’ve been able to foment and intensify a global appeal for Jamaican art forms. To learn more about this new venture, we had a chat with the 23-year-old stylist and budding communication expert:
Q. What is your vision for JAYECAN’s Canadian chapter?
A. The ultimate goal is to expand JAYEYAN’s platform in order to facilitate extending our reach to the diasporic community in Canada, by providing spaces where people who aren’t directly affected by our culture can interact with it, learn and develop an appreciation.
Q. What plans do you have to coalesce the Diaspora and Jamaican culture while in Canada?
A. In Canada, we plan to, through dialogue with different creative industry stakeholders at the micro and macro level, establish connections with Jamadian organisations – which should facilitate birth country and home country interactions – while taking into consideration other Jamaican diasporic communities across the globe – where possible. Most of these initiatives may take place online, until we can facilitate booking transnational flights.
Q. What do you love most about Jamaican art and culture?
A. Jamaican culture is simply one of the most globally impactful cultures – and should be protected at all costs. Our influence is seen in a variety of media and the only issue I have with that is that it is often appropriated and stolen from us and rebranded as someone else’s creation. Too often our choreography, for example – from dancehall steps to movements at the base in popular American music videos – is taken by copycats. And when our culture is claimed by others, what then can we do but sue?
Q. How has arts and culture impacted your life?
A. Art and Culture has been my source of just letting go and being unapologetically me, in the most abstract way. I love being on a stage and feeling the energy of the audience with every time that I emote, even if it’s not in a lead role. I love being artistic in how I style myself as well – because we have a limited control of our somatic appearance, but one thing we can control is how we dress. I am so grateful for clothes, theatre, content creation and all the artistic journeys that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing during my very young life. I think most of my present perspectives would have been absolutely ridiculous to me if I weren’t able to understand and interpret them through art and culture.
Q. In what ways have you been involved in arts and culture?
A. I’ve been involved in art and culture since high school. I guess it’s kind of a rite of passage for most Caribbean students, who will have to do things outside of their comfort zones throughout high school – in order to have an idea of what they really want to do. After leaving high school, I made the very deliberate and bold decision, to become an actor of some sort, once I got into Uni. It started from AZ Preston Hall on the UWI Mona Campus to QUILT, and from there, quite a number of opportunities opened up for me. Whether it was acting, modelling, styling or just creating content, QUILT has been the bedrock of most of those initiatives for me. Otherwise, I’m just someone who really loves the freedom that art gives and I’ll lend a hand to any creative project, once I can.
Darynel Beckford is also a growing YouTuber and content writer/creator, with his Lifestyle x Beauty x Style Vlog (and soon to be blog) Darynel Weekly. He has worked with popular Jamaican fashion and styling brands such as Tribe Nine Studios, Collection Moda and EtAl. He has been working in the performing arts for over 5 years. While at the UWI, he was a member of several creative groups and was casted in a local theatre production, Heist, written by Maya Wilkinson. While he loves theatre, Darynel also has a love for music with much of his high school years having been devoted to the award-winning Manchester High School Choir. Darynel is now based in Toronto, Canada, where he works in crisis communication and aims to make his imprint as a stylist and content creator.
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