In celebration of her birthday, Black History Month and 20 years of teaching Jamea Zuberi is embarking on a trip of a lifetime. She will be accompanying school age members of the Toronto North Stars Children Steel Orchestra to take part in a 3 year community building project to the 2014 Trinidad and Tobago annual carnival festival, bookended by the Trinidad and Tobago National Junior Panorama 2014 and the Trinidad and Tobago 2014 National Steelband Panorama finals.
Although this will not be the first time the Canadian veteran teacher will be taking school aged young people to her country of birth, it will be the first time she is taking a group made up of a Jane and Finch community based steel orchestra, sponsored and run by parents, family and friends, starting with her own. North Stars' first sponsors were Ms. Zuberi's own parents - her mother Marilyn Lyder purchased the first set of North Stars' uniforms, and her father, steel pan virtuoso Kelvin Stowe Lyder, is the arranger who mentors the young musician arrangers. Like 19 year old Simon Lendore who arranged his and the group's first composition of Rihanna's "What's my Name" 3 years ago during the band's first rehearsals.
The Toronto North Stars Children Steel Orchestra, # (hash tag) Building Characters of Steel, is a youth driven musical group whose members come from different communities around the GTA. " We are a diverse group of children and young people, age ranging from 6 to 20 years old, who all have a passion for music and performance in common. Our aim is to harness our love for the steelpan as a vehicle on our quest for better knowledge of our Caribbean ancestry, and to achieve a post- secondary education as part of our repertoire."
North Stars has performed in a variety of events including opening the Caribana parade in their first summer 2001, at the Ontario Black History Society Brunch, A Different Booklist calypso tent, and community movie nights.
When questioned about the experience, Ms. Zuberi's only comment was " I am blessed to be the happiest woman alive."