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A studio fit for a queen, or her representatives

Toronto, February 9, 2016

By Geoff Koehler

Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, wife of Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, visited St. Michael’s Hospital’s...

Posted by St. Michael's Hospital on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, wife of Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, visited St. Michael’s Hospital’s Creative Works Studio on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.

Creative Works Studio is an arts-based occupational therapy program which promotes healing and recovery for people suffering from serious mental illness.

Open throughout the week, the studio receives clients from mental health agencies across the city and helps more than 2,500 client visits a year make a comfortable return to active life in the larger community.

At this session, Her Excellency and the studio members were each given a block of clay to create an item that he or she would put into “community of hope.”

Pieces created by members included books to represent knowledge, an auditorium to represent culture; friends walking hand-in-hand; a mother holding a child; a hockey puck that reminded the member of days spent on the pond with his brother.

Johnston created a circle out of her clay.

“Aboriginal people see time in a circle, so you can always re-trace your steps if there is something in your past that you would like to fix you can retrieve that and go back to it,” said Johnston. “Time in a circle is so much better for the soul than time in a line and we have much to learn from our First Nations.”

The individual pieces were assembled together at the end of the session.

Johnston, a physical and occupational therapist, worked in the area of child psychiatry after graduating from the University of Toronto.

“Her Excellency radiated with a special joie de vivre and appeared to be in her element engaging with our studio members participating in the arts based occupational-therapy session,” said Isabel Fryszberg, creative lead of Creative Works Studio. “Our members were thrilled to have such a special guest enjoy the studio they love. We were also honoured that she bought one of our member’s paintings.”

Earlier that day, Her Excellency visited Good Foot Delivery, a courier service that offers employment to people with developmental disabilities.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston was also in Toronto. As commander-in-chief of Canada, the Gov. Gen. toured the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre, including the Dorothy Macham Home—which provides care to meet the special needs of veterans suffering from challenging behaviours due to dementia.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.