Patrice Roberts, Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@raptors
TORONTO – The vibes were nothing short of immaculate as the Toronto Raptors celebrated Caribbean Heritage Night on Thursday. With a special half-time performance from Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Queen Patrice Roberts, a win for the Raps, and tons of other highlights, it was a night that fans will not forget. We caught up with Roberts to chat about her viral hits, and spoke with John Wiggins, Vice President of Organizational Culture and Inclusion for the Toronto Raptors about the importance of celebrating Caribbean heritage.
‘Minding Our Business’ with Patrice Roberts
Fresh from Trinidad’s Carnival, Roberts brought all of the vibes with her to Heritage Night.
“Carnival was amazing, the vibes are still getting warm. We just came out of the pandemic so it’s a little weird. But it was still amazing. The music was amazing, the vibe was amazing, but most importantly being here is amazing,” she told The Brandon Gonez Show.
“Being able to perform at the half-time [for the] Raptors. Being the first female Soca artist to perform and bring the heat is amazing. It shows that Soca music is breaking barriers and reaching the hearts and the homes of so many people,” Roberts shared, adding that she is honoured to be in Toronto to represent Trinidad and Tobago.
Roberts also explained that she loves the vibe of Toronto, and it feels like home.
“The fact that I see Trinis, I see Jamaicans, Guyanese, so many different people from the Caribbean is here, it makes me feel like I’m home.”
“The warmth of the people is amazing, they accept me so well. My fanbase is huge over here,” Roberts continued.
She also blessed us with some Patrice-esque advice.
“Drink water and mind your business, everyone else’s business don’t matter. Just mind your business and drink your water,” she laughed as she quoted her hit song “Mind My Business.”, She also joked that you should drink it with ice to make sure the “business stays chill.”
Roberts also shared what Black History Month means to her.
“The fact that we are being heard. We’re being able to be ourselves. A couple of years ago we couldn’t do that, so to be able to speak out and be able to stand up for ourselves.”
Celebrating Caribbean Heritage With The Raptors
Ahead of the first-ever Caribbean Heritage Night, Wiggins shared that the team felt it was time to celebrate the culture of the Caribbean.
“Not only do we want to celebrate the Black community, but let’s face it, we’re not one monolith, we’re a diaspora,” Wiggins said.
“I think we’ve done some great things with G.O.A. and Africa, but it’s time to bring the Caribbean and the islands into the building and heat up the place you know!”
Wiggins explained that while planning the night, having Patrice Roberts perform was a no-brainer. Her music is viral, she loves Toronto, and she was willing to hit the city for the show.
“I don’t think anyone in the NBA has had a Soca artist perform at half-time, we’re about to set some trends tonight,” Wiggins said.
Caribbean Heritage Night is just one way that the Raptors have supported culture, social justice, change, and equity.
“Masai [Ujiri, Raptors’ president] wants to lead and we want to win on and off the court, and we’re going to continue to do that so we’re putting all our effort into it,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins shared that in his role he is responsible for keeping a focus on community engagement, and that includes how the leaders of the NBA are showing up every day when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
“Whether it’s marching for gun violence awareness, or having a Caribbean Heritage Night, or bringing in a drag performance for Pride, we understand the diversity of Canada, [and] Toronto, and we want that to be a reflection of who the Raptors are every single day and tonight is another example of that.”
The game featured Caribbean fusion cuisine, music and activations, with 20 per cent of proceeds going to the Jamaican Canadian Association. The association provides programs and services, while advocating for the well-being of Caribbean-Canadian and African-Canadian communities throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Let’s show the Raptors, and the Caribbean, some love in the comments!