After years of being honoured for outstanding participation in Toronto’s Pride Parade, Pelau Masqueerade has had its subsidy slashed by 80 percent.
The ornate Caribana-style “mas” band, which was named Outstanding Community Marching Group in 2005, has had its subsidy from Toronto Pride cut to $1,000 from $5,000.
Band leader Jamea Zuberi says the group will still participate, but that the overall look of the contingent won’t live up to previous years.
“Each masqueerader wearing a costume will have to pay $100,” says Zuberi. “People who are coming to jump up with us and celebrate — the burden falls on us. Visually, you’re going to see a difference.”
Zuberi says Pride Toronto’s executive director Fatima Amarshi told her about the cut a few months ago, when the group was already into the process of preparing for Pride.
“Fatima told me, ‘We have a new policy, that every group has to be treated the same.'”
Zuberi — a former Pride board member herself — says she doesn’t understand Pride’s decisions.
“It’s not like the organization is having financial problems. I support the organization and I support the parade. It does not mean I support the direction and philosophy of the new board.”
In a letter sent to Pelau and Pride board members, Amarshi said no group was receiving more than $1,000. “Pelau has already been accorded a parade bursary at the maximum amount of $1,000. I’ve made it clear to Jamea that this is the maximum amount any community organization can receive…. The rest is up to her group to raise.”