Emergency Meeting of the Tobogganing Committee wins January grant from Awesome Kingston


The Emergency Meeting of the Tobogganing Committee has won this month's $1,000 grant from Awesome Kingston. 

"We were stunned." said co-founder John Casnig on his reaction to winning the grant. "We were up against some great organized projects and ours was 'organic'". 

"We are so disorganized here its unbelievable." John's wife Krista joked. "We are a disorganization" said John. 

John and Krista Casnig have been running different variations of the committee, including tobogganing in the winter and barbecuing in the summer, for 15 years.

The pair helps to organize events for international students at Queen's University to help bring support from the community and to socialize with others. 

John says the idea came from the Sunday Dinner Crew 18 years ago where they hosted international students. 

"I saw that the grad students were stuck in offices and labs all summer. They were stressed. They were sickly looking. Missing their families. Unable to get away from their work often due to extreme pressure from their supervisor so they were just being crushed." said John. 

"We started having barbecues right beside Queen's. They can just come right over for one hour and have some fun, get some sunlight, see their friends, have some good food and socialize."

John says the reason it was called the "Emergency Meeting of the Barbecue Committee" was so those who wanted to participate can tell their supervisor they were needed for an "emergency committee meeting." 

Like a lot of events, COVID-19 has had an impact on how the committee meetings are run. 

"If other people are at the hill fine but we are officially a gathering however many people we invite." John said. "We have to be very very careful not to create something that is, number one, illegal and, number two, is not safe." 

When it comes to the grant, the Casnigs say that roughly a third of the money has been used so far to help acquire items. This includes food and drinks like hot chocolate mixes and cups. The money has also been spent on more toboggans. 

"We are looking to get a long toboggan as well that is safe and that can last us for years." John said. 

John says it's a simple task to be on the committee. All you have to do is be there. 

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