Trinidad - The culture, The Values, The People

by
Paula Tobias

As someone who was born in Canada to Caribbean parents, the household had a lot of interesting, strict and eclectic values. Trinidad is a small island, and a small population, just over a million people with big dreams, and hope for a brighter future. Both of my parents come from the island known for one of the biggest carnivals in the world, the food, the rum,
scorching weather, the diversity, the friendly people…a Trini, that is short for Trinidadian, or TrinBagonian for Trinidad and Tobago, and of course the adorable sing song accent.

The culture at times is an island of partying and celebration.Long story short, the whole idea of carnival was to celebrate the emancipation of slavery in Trinidad and Tobago. For such a petite island, the immense impact is stamped in history. The steel pan is an instrument birthed by Trinidad deriving from West African roots long passed over to music genres from Calypso, Soca, Dancehall and Jazz music. Janelle Commissiong was the first ever black women to be crowned Miss Universe in 1977. There are a few female rapper of Trini descent; Nicki Minaj immigrated to the U.S. at five being born in Trinidad. Cardi B’s mother is a Trini so you know we will claim her as a Trini. Actor Winston Duke of Black Panther and this year’s horror flick Us originates from Tobago. Actors Nia Long, Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton) and Tatyana Ali of Fresh Prince of Bell Air both have Trini roots. I read somewhere that Will Smith loves traveling to Trinidad. Coincidence? Now that you got a little backstory on the big impact the Trinidad and Tobago has created, this coincides with a part of how I was raised.Here is a general list of how I was raised from my Trini parents:

1. Music is a must in a household
2. Thing or ‘Ting’ meant pretty much anything and you of course either understood
what it meant or had to understand the meaning.
3. Nah of nuh basically is directed to you. For example: “Go get the groceries in the
car nuh.”
4. Never mistaken a Trini for a Jamaican or else you will get a rude awakening and
vice versa.
5. Someone from Tobago is a TrinBagonian or Trini… simple as that.

6. You will learn how to eat spicy food and realize that this really is flaming hot
sauce; you will cough at first but as someone of Trini descent… you will get used to
it. You will get bragging Trini rights if you can handle the sauce.
7. Callaloo is the best dish created on earth in my humble opinion, doubles is right
behind and of course macaroni pie along with roti (a pita like dish with any filling like
curried chicken, chickpeas and beef).
8. Your parents will tell you that Trini roti is the best roti made out of all islands that
cook roti (sorry Guyana).
9. We always persevere.
10. Creativity is everything.
11. Always having a positive outlook on life.

I hope this article has given you a little more perspective on the Trini culture. As a first generation Canadian born to immigrants originating from Trinidad, and despite the growing violence occurring there, it always fills a big stamp in the way that I grew up. Wherever I travel a Trini is there with pride behind that word, the culture has shaped me in the Young Professional I am today.

There is strength behind the flag with colours consisting of red, white and black with a song or two playing in the background, steel pan following the tune and macaroni pie being baked.
This is what helped to mold me.

About the Author

Andrea is a Mohawk Alumna, Theatre-lover, and Hamilton Cheerleader. She's the Director of Operations at Hello Cannabis. She’s passionate about supporting small business and entrepreneurs, and sits on the HIVE 2018 Executive as Vice Chair.