While the city had originally proposed changes to the parade route, requesting organizers to change the flow of people from the sidewalk to support the enhancement of the Harambecouver experience, the organizers would be left scrambling after a lack of funding from the Government, as well as staffing restrictions which fell short. African Great Lakes Networking foundation had came with big dreams and ideas, but lacked the funding to support the production as their executive director relied solely on government funding and with the commissioning of the new program of which was now being organized by Kayode Fatoba requiring successions and stages, Skynation assuming liability in year one of which gave the organizers strategic routing which would tour the parade experience while opening negotiations with the city towards better strategic planning.
Skynation successfully activated the side walk for a tour around one of the city’s most prioritized neighbourhoods, and with a one time exception from the city’s urban planners, Kayode Fatoba and Vancouver would work on securing better routing options for the tourists starting to frequent the city for the city’s emerging Multicultural Carnival.
Although the organizers had designed initial plans that commenced high level negotiations with the city, moving from year one to year two, Skynation had contracted the addition of engineers, mathematicians, teachers, sound engineers, accountants, and various project managers of whom were increasing planning time on production, with the lack of funding support already experienced from year one, Skynation had commenced work to open up more funding outlets as there was already an understanding that the city of Vancouver were not backing African Great Lakes Networking Foundation. Their funding promise was risky. The lack of funding, coupled with last minute decisions to revoke an already approved beer garden would almost cause Harambecouver to cancel this year’s programming. According to Kombii Nanjalah of Great Lakes Network, “Why did they approve a beer garden, force an increase in our liability insurance for Parade routing, and personal investments in the staffing and deposits to activate the Parade in a site that they proposed, only to tell us at the last hour that unfortunately they will not be moving forward with a Parade?” While Skynation as the backer were part of negotiations, an understanding that Nanjalah had owed funds to the city of Vancouver and was still paying off various expenses would further exasperate the debt Skynation might face just to present a crumbling organization in the presence of a new audience. From a lack of membership, to a lack of volunteers, it wasn’t just funding that African Great Lakes Networking Foundation lacked. Furthermore, although Nanjalah had stated VDP Staff Sergeant Ken Athans whom she had met with had stated “last year’s parade went off with not a single issue that he was aware of” yet she could not explain why Skynation and the city of Vancouver would pull out on approving only the Parade component of the week long production. The reason was because, her organization was putting the entire Skynation production at risk on a quest to speak to the United Nations. A feat they should be able to do through an email or a phone call to their local representatives. While Harambecouver as an organization had developed strong plans that included a Pancake Breakfast for people living in the Downtown Eastside with Nesters Garden communicating interest in sponsoring this component. Prior plans had existed within Fatoba and Nesters during his early years at Simon Fraser University of which engaged University Fashion Week and many of his affiliated platforms towards coming together to build Harambecouver to showcase their culture. From Fashion Programming, Food related activations, this would be a celebration that would bring people together. With a need to start planning early as Skynation delievered year one in less than 2 months, the need to develop a strong Traffic Management Plan and Negotiates with the city of Vancouver meant planning would commence early but with a need to make sure Skynation’s licensing were secured, if funding was not there, if the presenting organization did not have the capacity to support their claims and programming plans, Skynation would not sacrifice or risk the safety of it’s communities for to give African Great Lakes Networking Foundation a positive image. Vancouver’s economic board also started to see Skynation’s value given it’s award and role in pioneering and ideating the city’s newest African Descent Festival.
While Skynation's investment into Harambecouver also meant an investment in research and development, problems would arise within communication of production budget between Skynation and African Great Lakes of whom would communicate budgets of which they did not have a confirmation of funds for. While Skynation had funding to support it's production, African Great Lakes contracting Skynation unfortunately did not mean African Great Lakes Networking Foundation had the funds to pay Skynation. The launch of Harambeocouver of which now had the entire company shifting it's vision also meant the entire investment of the company was now into Haramboucouver, within African Greats Lakes continuously communicating rejection of funds. From a failure of receiving it's Arts funding of over 100K to failing to receiving it's federal funding of over 300K, Kombii Nanjalah and her organization's Chapter Great Lakes Canada of whom committed to another $20,000+ would back out of their commitments citing organizational mismanagement issues. From political differences between the Board of Directors of Great Lakes Canada and the Executive Director of African Great Lakes, the various funding cuts would also be met by an executive director who wanted to sieze control. While Skynation might have secured conditional permitting to activate the side walks by the city of Vancouver, this was also within an understanding that both organizations would access risk together in ascertaining if production was deliverable. According to Brandon, Skynation's Risk Management Specialist, the idea is that we wanted to be able to produce events with a turn around of a day within us working in a small functioning cocreative space, but we also wanted to be able to make drastic calls and cancel programming if we felt it would put our crew, our touring artists, our visitors and country in risk.
What made the launch of Harambecouver powerful was it was very student driven, Kayode’s reach as an organizer could be felt in the diversity of cultures exposed to platform as an attraction.
Although Great Lakes Networking Foundation communicated the provision of two parks, within another organization Communities of Great Vancouver and Social Sounds set to present sports and music programming on the other parks, cuts to park activations would be announced by African Great Lakes Networking Foundation more than 5 months into planning. Although an apology was provided by the Executive Director of African Great Lakes Networking Foundation for the “mis communication” of which cost the cancellation of various sports team set to visit Vancouver, hired sports conveners, and project managers of whom had began work on the insurance, licensing, permitting and investigation into local reffing regulations to activate the park, the callousness of African Great Lakes Networking Foundation to address with clear objectives how it would make sure the funding of which it promised would be there in a case where grants was rejected would not be provided and with city negotiations experience being something the Executive Director of the organization lacked, Skynation could not speak or engage the city of Vancouver through an organization with limited resource capacities. Jayden Maharaj from Communities of Greater Vancouver believes the decision of Government to pull the plug last minute especially given the staffing investment, time investment and production investment might have been callous to the staff and stakeholders who have been taken for a ride by their inefficiencies. “Someone who had not been to our meetings, decided we were not at a level to have a Parade or a Beer Garden” said one of the Parade Executives who has chosen to remain anonymous. While African Great Lakes Networking Foundation had focused blame on the city of Vancouver, Skynation’s investigation would show an organization lacking the capacity to meet it’s production demands. While Skynation had a responsibility to bring Harambecouver to life, a term coined by Kayode Fatoba through a listening session of which would be used to create a distinction between African Great Lake Networking Foundation’s community arguable 2000+ Attendee African Carnival. With Skynation ideating African Descent Festival for the African Descent Society, of which Kayode would join as Artistic Director of the society which would rebrand the organization from it’s United Black Canadian umbrella to support the new society branding and thus, the need to create a new program would force the public health scientist to present a new mission and vision for to Kombii Nanjalah to tackle with her organization. With Kayode immersed in years of research and community organizing at Simon Fraser University, the scientist’s ability to operationalize solutions were already part of long term programming of which were driving Skyantion as a production house. Thus the pivot into a Multicultural Carnival would impact how even Kayode had been feeling in his multicultural relationship at the time.
My Girlfriend had the time really inspired Harambeocouver, it was more of a birthday celebration for her, we were dealing with a lot of identity issues within our relationship. I focused my energy in inviting the Fijian community because she was fijianCanadian amongst other mixes and I was tired of people only seeing her as “White” I wanted Canadians to be proud of their “other” of which is politically tucked away in fear of not assimilating. I was glad she attended and had fun. – Fatoba
While there was a focus on the approved beer garden of other festivals of which Skynation would secure licensing for it’s shows with no issues, Great Lakes Networking Foundation on the other hand would require Skynation backing once again in securing licensing. While the ask was presented as a social advocacy, concerns would emerge as the label would inquire about the funding to support alcohol, given the lack of experience or funding, it seemed as though the Executive Director of African Great Lakes Networking Foundation had assumed the alcohol beverage would be used to pay for the festival without any funding injections for the commissioning of the program. While Skynation had went into production under the pretences that African Great Lakes Networking Foundation would provide funding given this was it’s second year of production, further investigation would reveal the organization backing away from their initial production numbers. Production became self funding, with Kayode being the main backer supporting the entire production through experience and diminishing savings.
Meeting Octavio from the City of Vancouver and Jenny really inspired me as a production associate working with Skynation, they could see that our team was prepared and working hard, it was great to see them work with us in mitigating the risk as we understand no one knew the financial situation of African Great Lakes Networking Foundation. A higher activation meant higher financial risks, but with African Great Lakes Unable to support it’s contract commitments, it put the entire production and various artists of whom had booked of the dates from work in risk. Afomia, a self directed Vp Finance intern pictured here at city of Vancouver Parks Board Meeting.
While Octavio Silva had highlighted differences in Vancouver’s Parks Board Offices from the rest of Canada, citing changes to the governing constitution, lack of Council Meeting at an appropriate time to approve the proposed beer garden which had originally been slated for the Thornton Park, the city would push high level demands on the organizers due to these inefficiencies and while that increased the risk in Skynation and the city of Vancouver coming to solutions in delivering on a better parade experience, African Great Lakes Networking Foundation as a presenting and funding sponsor of whom would be unable to support their claims of presenting 2000 people at their first annual African Carnival meant negotiations between the city and Skynation would meet various frictions. There seemed to be preexisting issues between African Great Lakes Networking Foundation and the city of Vancouver and Skynation was being taken for the ride, while Harambecovuer was giving the organization a lot more credibility. Skynation as the production company was assuming liability for the organization but the organization lacked any support or understood the production’s long term goal and strategic plans.
While Skynation and the city of Vancouver worked to support Steven Lytton and Kombii Nanjalah, it was obvious Steven as the Chair of Great Lakes Canada and Kombii sandwiched the information flow from the organizers to the government. From internal issues between Great Lakes Canada to disagreements between African Great Lakes Network and it’s various volunteer agreements, the lack of funding would mean Harambeoucouver lacked any provision and support for volunteers. With a lack of volunteers increasing the need to tap into an increased budget to support the cashflow of the production, it would be Fatoba who graciously took up the bills while playing his role as the producer within the ongoing commitments required to keep the brand alive and growing.
While it’s one thing for the African Great Lakes Networking Foundation to compare itself to Pride Society of Vancouver, the share reality was both organizations operating budgets were different and that was something the executive director of the society failed to communicate. A startup society of whom lacked the basic understanding of valuating it’s operating bugdget, while signing agreements based on funding projections amongst various mismanagement and business dealings. Problem was the African Great Lakes Networking Foundation viewed it’s nascent stages as a political issue citing discrimination as issues for funding rejections, but with the inability to gauge society’s bank account, Skynation and the city of Vancouver we’re caught in the middle.
Given the agreement with the city who gave Skynation a head turn within the production house activating the side walk for the Carnival’s programming launch after African Great Lakes Networking Foundation backed away from it’s 2000 people claimed attendance in their first year of production, Skynation was not interested in putting it’s attendees in risk by once again having it’s carnival on the sidewalk. According Brad Achtem, one of the Project Managers in charge of planning and negotiations with the city on HMC18’s Parade Routing there were disappointments to see inequities from different standards by each city office. While there were some offices working with organizers to enhance their plans due to budget constraints, workings to cooperatively find solutions that would see the considerable work being put in by Parade Organizers to meeting the necessary traffic management plans, “Sherwood Plant, A City of Vancouver Traffic & Data Management Engineer would hand the verdict of cancellation to us, without an interest for meetings or providing rationale as to what other edits to the organizers traffic plans needed enhancement to meet city regulations and guidelines”. But Skynation also pulling the plug was the share inability of Kombii Nahjalah’s capabilities in answering how she would finance the free parade presentation. With an organization of whom had less members than Skynation as a digital label, it was communicated to that Entertainment Law and Event Policing would cost upwards of $500/hour within the various numbers needed per thousand attendees. If her African Carnival had seen 2000 attendees in year one, where was the funding. With Parks Board complaining about it’s financial lien on African Great Lakes Networking Foundation, so was Skynation and with the Parade taking up 60% of the production budget citing a need for policing, and various volunteer resourcing, outside of the costumes, TMPs, and Engineering Costs. On top of this one would need to consider the impact to traffic within African Great Lakes Networking Foundation wanting to go down Main Street one of the busiest areas during the summer. It just didn’t make sense.