My Kingston Day: CBC Ottawa and Kingston Frontenac Public Library celebrate city with community-centred event
CBC Ottawa hosts day-long event at KFPL’s Central Branch
CBC Ottawa partnered with the Kingston Frontenac Library for a day of immersive events capped by a lively panel, highlighting all the city has to offer.
Chief Librarian and Kingston Frontenac Public Library CEO Laura Carter said the day's events reflected "the library's goal to ensure community members find opportunities that spark imagination and ignite creativity at the library."
"The library is also committed to providing welcoming inclusive public spaces where residents and visitors can build a shared sense of community and belonging," she added, welcoming visitors to the library's first day of reopening.
The day kicked off with the unveiling of a mural by local artists Francisco Corbett and Constance Intounas.
"[We wanted to portray] a warm sunny evening in downtown Kingston filled with rich colours and loving scenery," Corbett told CBC.
Being relatively new to Kingston, Queen's University student Intounas says she draws inspiration from the city constantly.
"I think Kingston has helped me identify myself entirely as an artist," she told CBC.
"The art community is insane here, there's so many people that I don't know that come out to support or show love to my artwork and it's really overwhelming in the best way possible."
In the afternoon, visitors were invited to drop-in to the library's Create Space for family-friendly arts and crafts activities using tools like 3D printers and button makers.
The day was capped off with "Kingston: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," an hour-long community-focused discussion about the city's growth.
The panel was made up of some of the city's brightest minds from the fields of agriculture and food, business and public health.
Owner of Long Road Ecological Farm Xiaobing Shen, founder of Cher-Mère Day Spa Dr. Aba Mortley and psychiatrist and mental health advocate Dr. Deji Ayonrinde shared the challenges they faced in establishing themselves in the community and the personal journeys that led them to find a home in Kingston.
"Kingston for me was love at first sight," Dr. Ayonrinde shared, explaining he'd moved to the city to work at the university after having lived in four other continents.
The panellists also reflected on the importance the tight-knit community of Kingston played in helping them pave their careers.
Dr. Ayonrinde says he sometimes found people were hesitant to open up about their mental health in a clinical setting. However, he later realised that people were much more comfortable connecting on a personal level when he began volunteering at local homeless shelters.
"Under starlight [they] were sharing experiences," he said, explaining, "I didn't volunteer as a clinician, I volunteered as a member of the community."
"Growing up as a child, it was always drilled into us – if you show love and appreciation for community, they will see through the authenticity and they'll embrace you back," he said.
Dr. Mortley found similar joy in volunteering early on as an immigrant from Trinidad new to the city for university.
20 years on, she says those experiences were foundational in establishing her spa business in the city today.
"I always say that when you come into my business, I don't want it to feel like a transaction, I want it to be an experience," she said, adding, "I think because we give back to the community so much … people see that we're not just an entity there, but that we are intrinsically part of the community."
The panellists later touched on the "culture shock" they felt coming from more diverse regions and how they've watched Kingston embrace diversity over the years.
Shen, who grew up in rural China and moved to Kingston from Toronto with his partner in 2013, is known at the Kingston Farmer's Market for his 'Farm Sum.'
It's what he calls a series of dishes he sells that are inspired by his Chinese upbringing and sourced organically from his farm, including the pork in his steamed pork-filled buns.
He admits that some members of the community took a while to warm up to his food, but he also found "there are people who want to try right off the bat because when you do something different, people kind of [are drawn] to you."
Dave Stewart, a member of the audience who was already familiar with Shen from the community, found his and other panellists' personal stories captivating.
"With [Shen], I didn't know where he'd grown up and what his background was because we'd never talked about that," Stewart told CBC.
"So just getting that sort of detail and understanding was great."
CBC Ottawa is committed to bringing Kingston the best local news. Our Kingston pop-up bureau, led by CBC journalist Michelle Allan, launched in November 2021 and has since wrapped but not before producing several stories such as:
- Eastern Ontario hospitals short-staffed because of COVID-19 spread
- Queen's review of policies on Indigenous identity claims rife with issues, say critics
- Sleeping cabins for Kingston's homeless fall short, critics say
- Kingston, Ont, has a profound doctor shortage. Here's why.
- Red tape keeps dying Kingston, Ont., man from getting care, daughter says
- Pandemic presses Kingston's need for social housing solutions
- After 14 years, boil water advisory lifted for most in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
- Historic tavern in Kingston, Ont, sold to Toronto condo broker
If you want to share what's happening in Kingston, send us an email.