A few months ago if anyone told me I would have to be staying at home, stopping all travel, dealing with most stores and services shutting down right across the entire world and being terrified of catching a virus and dying, I would have thought they were nuts. This is the extraordinary reality that everyone on the planet now faces. It is like we all went to sleep and had a bad dream that we can’t wake from.
As the weeks move along and we are all isolating in our homes we are worried about loved ones we can not see in person. It is difficult to be hopeful that things might return to normal at some point. We may not return to anything we know as normal for a few months and that is only if we all stay home, wash hands, practice physical distancing and wear a mask when we are out for any essential purposes. If we abide by the rules then the worst should be over in a few months. However, if we do not stay home and we don’t follow the advice of our health experts then it could be many months and possibly a year or two before our lives return to anything we know as normal.
Right now we are surviving and moving on in this new dire reality because of the efforts of so many people who are going to work every day to care for us and keep us safe, fed, healthy and provided for. I am dedicating this column to all those essential workers who are there for us every day and keeping our world going. I want to say Meegwetch to all of our health care professionals in the hospitals, our public health units, Personal Support Workers (PSWs) dedicated to our seniors and clinics for being there when we get sick and for providing advice. I give thanks to our police services, paramedics, First Nation and non-Native government officials and workers and city and town management, public works and staff for being on the job and maintaining our communities.
I am grateful for people like Josh, Gail and the staff at the Foodland here in Kirkland Lake where I live for keeping up with supplying us with food. As well thanks to Jamie and his staff at the local Pettenuzzo Independent store for making sure our grocery needs are met. Thanks to the various stores in town, restaurants that are staying open for takeout and delivery, the Giant Tiger and Dollar Store staff as well as our postal workers. My gratitude to all the teachers who are struggling to maintain an education system online for their students.
We have to remember the great efforts being made by the truck drivers and train workers who are keeping us supplied with food and products we need. It is important also to be aware of the dedication of those who work in mines, plants and businesses that are staying open as essential designates as a means to keep our economy operating to some degree.
So many of us who are staying home and safe owe so much to all of those who are out in public working every day to keep us going while being in harm’s way. It is not the very rich and powerful that we need to thank in this time of great struggle and danger but the everyday worker who is underpaid and overworked and who shows up to provide a service to assist us all through this Coronavirus pandemic.
Right-wing governments have been cutting back on our health care system, education system, environmental protections, pollution controls and caring for the most vulnerable of our society for years. Now that we are in the midst of this pandemic I hope we all remember that once we are beyond this crisis we will put in place people friendly governments that will provide the funding we need to improve our health care, education, working environments and caring for the land, air, water and the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society.
Once we make it through these difficult days, we owe it to those essential workers to make life better for them all and to do our best never to end up in a situation like this again. Our obsession with the economy won’t save us from this pandemic but our devotion to compassion, kindness and love for each other will.