Every month, Awesome Kingston awards a $1,000 grant to a local project that the trustees think will keep Kingston awesome. Last week, the May grant was awarded to the Hub Festival, which will take place as part of the Skeleton Park Arts Festival.
This year, the Integrated Care Hub (ICH) will be a hub of arts and entertainment as part of the Skeleton Park Arts Festival (SPAF) next month. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jun. 22, 2023, the ICH will come alive with an arts show, drumming session, and a barbeque, and will showcase the Community Support Program (CSP), which is a work program for the people who are served at the ICH.
Kelli McIsaac, the Activities and Events Coordinator for the Integrated Care Hub, said that the goal of this festival is to celebrate their Indigenous friends, educate the Kingston community, and promote the work they do at the ICH and why they do it.
“I feel like I have the best job at the Hub! I have the privilege to organize activities for the people we serve,” McIsaac, who calls her position the Joy Patrol, shared with Kingstonist in an interview.
“Fun isn’t utilized enough! The saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ speaks truth,” she expressed. “The people we serve are strong and resilient. What they go through on a daily basis to simply survive is extremely difficult! I don’t think that I have that kind of strength to survive the way they do.”
She noted that this addition to the services at the ICH brings a more holistic approach to the people who are served there. Bringing some joy to her clients’ lives is an honour, McIsaac shared. Her programming provides opportunities like playing music at jam sessions or experiencing reflexology – opportunities they might not normally have access to.
The CSP work program is proof that the ICH truly has become a community, she noted. “Our work program is for the people we serve. This came about during COVID,” McIsaac said.
“We did not get hit with COVID for quite some time. When we did, we became short-staffed to the point that we would have had to close our doors,” she explained. “That was the last thing we wanted to do as it was in the month of November! Several people we serve stepped up and offered to help. Now, we have a thriving work program. It really does go against the notion some people have that the people we serve are lazy and don’t want to work. They just needed an opportunity, which we have facilitated with their help.”
Attendees to the Hub Festival during SPAF can expect “a chill atmosphere where we can chat as neighbours,” McIsaac stated. “People will have the opportunity to meet and chat with some of the people who live at the Hub and work at the Hub. We will be serving food catered by Indigenous community partners, as well as a barbeque. Following that, we are having a community drumming session led by Yessica Belsham. She is amazing and she will bring enough drums for everyone to take part.”
She added that all the people of Kingston are invited to the festival at the Hub, “however it may not be suitable for small children, so parents please use your discretion. We have reversed over 1,500 overdoses since opening our doors, and some of these overdoses being reversed have been outside.”
The money from Awesome Kingston will go toward the rental of a large tent. This event will run rain or shine, and is taking place the day after Indigenous Peoples Day. According to McIsaac, 36 per cent of the clientele at the ICH self-identify as being of Indigenous descent, and organizers are delighted to be able to protect the drums for the session from the elements.
McIsaac shared that she has lots of activities planned for the summer months. “I hope to have barbeques all summer, but we will need lots of meat donations to make that happen. We don’t have a food budget, so we rely heavily on food donations.”
She added that this upcoming Hub Festival will allow the people of Kingston to witness everything they do at the Hub to support the people they serve.
“We are doing the best we can, but we really do need support from the city of Kingston’s residents.”