BY: CHELSEA OWUSU
With a number of different festivals and parades taking place across the community during the Civic Holiday long weekend, it’s difficult to decide where to go. This year, Mississauga hosts its first urban music festival known as CanJam.
CanJam is an event founded by Michael Dockery, also known as Bigga Boss and Beatrice Moreira-Laidlow. The event took place at Lakeside Park and featured local crafters, food trucks, a kid’s zone, and live local artists and DJ’s. “The purpose of the event is to highlight Toronto and Mississauga’s urban artists, most of which are of Canadian-Jamaican descent,” says Dockery.
Dockery has worked tirelessly to make CanJam happen this year and bring his vision to life. His goal was to showcase his Jamaican heritage, while also highlighting his Canadian upbringing. While bringing his talent to stage, he also wanted to give others the same opportunity for other Canadian-Jamaican talents. “As this is the first event, we made sure to have a beautiful sound system. People here are listening to a lot of different DJ’s, a lot of different artists. We want to at least introduce you to a lot of different artists because a lot of people have probably never heard of these people before, but they’re very good,” says Dockery.
Throughout the event, different genres of Caribbean music could be heard, including soca, reggae, dancehall, reggaeton, rap, old school, and hip-hop. “There are over fifty artists and thirty DJ’s here today, and they’re all local. They’re very good too. We have to promote our own, we can’t just keep promoting other people, and that’s what our event is here to do,” says Dockery.
Artists such as Alta B, Taja B, Lenn Hammond, Korexion, Sandi Patrice, Jay Kartier, and CanJam’s co-founder whose stage name is Bigga Boss, took the stage throughout the day.
Dockery is well-known in the Jamaican music industry and received the Custom Dub Award in 2016. He has performed in a number of different venues including the popular Caribana, and even venues in Jamaica, Bahamas, and Texas.
“CanJam is celebrating the Caribbean culture by promoting Canadian-Jamaican culture, and by bringing the flavors of Jamaica into this event for the community to understand the culture and how diverse and great it is,” says Moreira-Laidlow, co-founder and event manager for CanJam.
Both Dockery and Moreira-Laidlow believe that community involvement at CanJam will allow others to appreciate the music, arts, and rich history that the Canadian-Jamaican community has to offer. “It started with a concept that Michael wanted to do and I made it happen. I’m into the event planning business, so I made it happen,” says Moreira-Laidlow.
CanJam is officially sponsored by PDQ Digital Media, RFP Radio, Rebel Vibez, RJ Entertainment Publishing, Bigga Boss Triple Crown Promotions, Motion Hype Academy, Onyx Guard Services, Red Sound and Lighting, and Modern Mississauga.
“We fully intend to continue on as a yearly event,’ says Moreira-Laidlow. “We hope to bring an international artist to the event next year.”
As a free event, CanJam offers a great resource where families can learn about the diverse Canadian-Jamaican culture while enjoying great food and live music.
“If you want to experience an original sound system and great music, this is where you should be,” says Moreira-Laidlow.