Interview with Executive Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, Kait Blake
By Annabella Feeny
Kait Blake is the Executive Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, a Vancouver based non-profit organization that is committed to supporting and promoting disabled artists. She graduated with a diploma of Tourism and Travel from Confederation College and a Bachelor of Recreation Management (BRM) focused in Community Development, Events, and Tourism from Acadia University.
What are you most passionate about?
I am extremely passionate about inclusion and facilitating a space where members feel supported and able to pursue their creative interests. My own lived experiences have also compelled me to be a strong advocate for mental health and wellness. I previously worked at the Kettle Society, a non-profit organization which empowers individuals who live with mental illness, poverty, and homelessness by providing outreach, housing, employment, and enrichment programs.
Who are your greatest role models and mentors?
Yuri Arajs, the former Artistic Director of Kickstart. He originally hired me for a 3-month work placement as an Administrative Assistant through Gastown Vocational Services, a Vancouver-based mental health vocational organization. Under his mentorship, I thrived in my role and was later promoted to Directorship. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and encouraged me to cultivate my creative talents. I am grateful to continue to have him in my life as a mentor and coach.
What has been your greatest accomplishment throughout your career trajectory?
My great accomplishment was recognizing that my mental health was holding me back from participating in many opportunities. By taking charge of my mental health, I was able to get involved with amazing organizations such as Kickstart and the Kettle Society and further, give back to my community at large.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Our current state of global affairs. The world is so uncertain, and how we work and live has completely changed. However, I would like to emphasize that this should also be recognized as a time of immense societal growth and opportunity. Uncertainty can be exciting! There are many unconventional opportunities to build careers, find what you are really passionate about, and mold your work in a way that makes you excited to get up in the morning. I would encourage the next generation of women to rise to the challenge and seek out these opportunities.
Any Last Words?
I am impassioned to see how much our world has changed in relation to accepting and creating equitable opportunities for people living with disabilities. Many companies have become more flexible in allowing employees to work from home and this is extremely promising. It is paramount that more companies continue to adopt and establish policies that are reflective of inclusive work culture so that all individuals may be able to thrive in their roles.