Vivian Cain’s daughter, Latoya, died in 2020, but it’s her daughter’s memory that keeps Cain motivated to continue planning and organizing the annual North Preston Day Celebration. The event took place last Saturday, the 16th year for the celebration.
“It was so hard when she passed,” Cain said in an interview. “It’s still hard.”
“I worked hard because I didn’t want to think about her, and I just kept busy, busy, busy. That kept my mind so that I wouldn’t have to, you know, be crying and… It helped me.”
Vivian and Latoya Cain started North Preston Day in 2008 through a group they founded called Women with a Vision.
“We’re a non-profit organization and our purpose is to enhance our community of North Preston, create activities for the children, and help our seniors,” Cain said.
Women with a Vision also hosts other projects throughout the year, including Mother’s Day events. The group also helps community members whose homes have been damaged by storms.
Cain said the first three North Preston Day Celebrations included a small parade, which was attended by only a handful of close family members.
As more people started getting involved in 2011 and 2012, the event picked up steam. Cain said the North Preston Day Celebration is now a free, all-day event, open to everyone, complete with barbecues, bouncy castles, prizes, breakfast, musical entertainment, and a gaming and cooling centre for seniors inside the North Preston Community Centre.
This year’s event was the first to feature vendors, including many Black-owned businesses.
Ardel Smith, the province’s first and only Black helicopter pilot, grew up in Cole Harbour. He has family roots in North Preston, and took part in the event. Smith now works for the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
“Ardel came up and he was flying over. And then last year when he came he was stationed up on the Arnold D. Johnson field where we just went up and took pictures. We’re very proud of Ardel,” Cain said.
North Preston’s future
Miranda Cain, Vivian’s niece, is a board member with Women with a Vision. Miranda is the founder of North Preston’s Future, a youth organization that employs high school students from the community throughout the summer. Some of those students help organize the annual Peace Basketball Tournament.
North Preston’s Future now collaborates with Women with a Vision to plan the North Preston Day Celebration.
In an interview, Miranda Cain said the North Preston Day Celebration costs a lot to organize.
“This lady, Vivian Cain, she is a true matriarch,” Miranda Cain said. “She fundraises with bare minimal support from government agencies, very minimal. And I mean, we’re a part of Canada, we’re the largest Black community, we should embrace and celebrate this together … So, by having the vendors come out [this is a way] we can help take care of the price, the overhead.”
Miranda Cain and Vivian Cain said they would like to see the event grow to include more live entertainment, a talent show, and marching bands. While the fireworks were canceled because of fog, the evening street dance went on as planned.
“I danced until 1:30. Felt it Sunday morning, though,” Miranda said.
Following Saturday’s parade, Vivian Cain put a call out for people to help support future North Preston Day Celebrations.
“Anyone out there that would love to sponsor us, we welcome you because it’s hard out there fundraising when you don’t have the funds,” she said.
“Without my family, I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself. But I’ve got a lot of family members that help me.”