Monday, June 9, 2008

Concert a way to bring serenity to families of addicts

Jazz singer who lost parents to addictions raises funds for treatment agency

When Ottawa jazz singer Kim Kaskiw performs Wednesday night at a benefit concert, she'll not only be playing for her own enjoyment -- she'll also be playing in memory of her parents.

Kaskiw lost both her parents to addictions. Her father, Michael, an alcoholic, died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1992. Her mother, an alcoholic but also a heavy smoker, died from lung cancer in 2004.

"I was devastated when they died," said Kaskiw, a jazz vocalist and tuba player who moved to Ottawa from Toronto 20 years ago after graduating from Humber College. She performs in shows around town and also teaches voice at Carleton University.

"You feel so helpless, you want to help, and you can see them killing themselves but they don't see it. My mother was in Alcoholics Anonymous for 30 years before she died, but she couldn't give up the nicotine addiction and she was severely addicted to it."

The concert at Library and Archives Canada is in support of Serenity Renewal for Families, an Ottawa agency that provides counselling and treatment for men and women suffering from substance abuse. It also provides counselling and support for the families of those struggling with substance abuse.

Kaskiw said even though she tried to help her parents, it was difficult growing up as they constantly struggled with their addictions.

"My father was still drinking at the time and once he showed up at my college during a performance of mine very drunk. I was so embarrassed," she recalled.

"There was a lot of shame on both sides. There is shame of the alcoholics who do these things and they have remnants of memories of doing these things, and some don't remember at all.

"And the child of an alcoholic, of course, remembers everything and is continually traumatized by it," she said.

"So, it is a family disease in this way, and you need to get the help that you need so that you can enjoy your life."

She said she got the idea for the benefit concert after reading stories about the growing drug problems among addicts in Ottawa.

"I saw these disturbing photos of people finding needles on the ground and people being upset about crack pipes being provided to addicts when really I think, there should be treatment centres for addicts, not crack pipes," she said.

For the benefit concert she's lined up some of Ottawa's top jazz musicians. They include J.P. Allain on piano, Norm Glaude on bass, Don Johnson on drums, Sandy Gordon on saxophone and Fred Pachi on trumpet and fluegelhorn. The night will feature original compositions and songs from Kaskiw's CD Shades of Love, which was released in 2006.

Tickets are $20 and available at The Ottawa Folklore Center, Compact Music, Leading Note Music and Serenity Renewal for Families.
source: © The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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