On May 17, the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute (KATI) celebrated the appointment of its founder, Monica Carpendale, as Professor Emeritus. The event was held at the KATI campus in Nelson and drew a large crowd of community members eager to express their gratitude and admiration for Monica’s contributions to the field of art therapy and her ongoing commitment to KATI and the wider community. The evening was filled with heartfelt speeches, a display of Monica’s original artwork, and a showcase of the therapeutic board game series she created for children.
Monica founded the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute as a non-profit educational institution in 1995 at the request of her friend and colleague, Jan Souza. The school offers a two-year diploma program in art therapy, a culturally responsive profession that utilizes artmaking and the creative process to support the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The KATI program includes supervised practicum placements in a variety of settings, resulting in thousands of hours each year of free art therapy being made available to community members. Monica’s vision and compassionate action have made art therapy accessible to many who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to benefit from it.
The Kutenai Art Therapy Institute is one of several post-secondary institutions in the Nelson area. Its presence draws students from around the world pursuing art therapy studies, making a positive impact on the local economy, attracting talented individuals, and promoting collaboration across different sectors.
Over the years, Monica served as KATI’s executive director and academic dean, tirelessly working to expand the faculty and staff to meet the growing demand for training and administrative support. In 2022, Monica transitioned to Professor Emeritus, and two long-standing faculty members, Nicole Le Bihan and Millie Cumming, stepped in as academic co-deans. Monica’s prestigious new role affords her the opportunity to continue her work teaching specialized courses, providing guidance to students, and focusing on her writing.
The May 17 event offered attendees a glimpse into Monica’s artistic talents, featuring an array of her drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Attendees were also treated to a collection of her published works, including books and articles that capture her wisdom and insight. Adding an interactive element to the celebration, the audience enjoyed a presentation of the Auxilium Horizons and Blue Heron therapeutic board games, designed by Monica and her late partner, Blake Parker. The games provide a powerful tool for children to engage in the therapeutic process, helping them to explore their emotions and express themselves in a safe and engaging format.
Throughout the evening, the KATI campus overflowed with attendees, a testament to Monica Carpendale’s impact on the lives of those around her. The venue was filled with family, friends, colleagues, and community members, all eager to express their gratitude and admiration for Monica’s visionary leadership and compassionate action. The celebration was a heartfelt tribute to Monica’s exceptional journey, a journey that has touched the lives of many and left an indelible mark on the field of art therapy.
As the event came to a close, there was a feeling of renewed appreciation in the room for the healing potential of creativity. Monica’s work demonstrates how art therapy can be a powerful tool for transforming this creativity into direct, compassionate action, tangibly improving the lives it touches, just as her legacy has done.