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The Globe and Mail

Former Toronto Raptor leads winning mas band

Limbo dancers perform during the Caribbean Carnival kick-off ceremony at the Toronto Police headquarters on Friday.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

Former Toronto Raptors centre Jamaal Magloire has always said that the end of the basketball season marked the beginning of Toronto's Caribbean carnival season.

Mr. Magloire was born and raised in Toronto, but his parents came to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago. He attended his first Toronto Caribana Festival (now known as the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival) at the age of four.

When he is not working for the Raptors – he is now a basketball development consultant and community ambassador for the team – Mr. Magloire can be found organizing and helping his carnival masquerade band, The Toronto Revellers, compete for carnival glory.

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Mr. Magloire is the founder of Toronto Revellers Inc., a cultural non-profit organization that aims to embody and represent distinctive qualities of the Caribbean by showcasing its rich traditions.

Entering his ninth year as his masquerade group's band leader, Mr. Magloire has already helped the Revellers capture two band-of-the-year titles, and he plans on winning another one this year.

Toronto's Caribbean carnival is the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America.

What does the Caribbean carnival mean to you?

It means a lot. We have so many different festivals in Ontario that we embrace and this is just another big one. I'm happy to be Caribbean, I'm happy to be a part of this festival. I have attended it for 20 plus years, but I've now been involved with it for about nine years.

What can you tell us about the Toronto Revellers?

The Toronto Revellers are my mas band that has participated in the Scotiabank Carnival for nine years now. It's something I've built from scratch.

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We have a contingent of 1,500 people that are loyalist and like to enjoy themselves and like to promote the community and our culture. I've brought a lot to this city over the years, this is just another one of those gifts. This is something that should be embraced by everybody. The Toronto Revellers give you an opportunity of a lifetime to experience costuming, the art and having fun.

What is it that makes it one of Toronto's premier festivals?

I think it's a chance for people like my parents to be able to be in an atmosphere with young people in harmony and unity and just showing what beauty the city of Toronto has to offer.

What's your favourite part?

My favourite part is the preparation [and] the opportunity to go on stage [with The Revellers] and be judged while portraying our theme. Every year, I come up with a different theme [for the Revellers] — last year we played James Bond, the year before that we played Bollywood, and this year we're playing warriors — so having that opportunity to pick what your theme is is what brings me the most excitement.

Do you think that Canada has chance at winning an Olympic gold medal in basketball?

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Absolutely. I think we have a good calibre of young talent that seem to have a good work ethic, and to have Steve Nash at the helm leading them there is no doubt in my mind that they will have a chance to compete for a medal at some point.

How are the 2014-2015 Toronto Raptors shaping up?

We were not satisfied with going seven games in the first round and we've improved our team. Coach [Dwane] Casey and [general manager] Masai Ujiri have done a great job and they're people I look up to because of their class, will and work ethic to get better and make this city a powerhouse.

This interview has been edited and condensed

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