History will Tell the Tale – Under the Northern Sky

Under the Northern Sky

The COVID-19 virus does not seem to be letting up in our cities and across Canada. There seems to be signs that we are moving toward a more manageable situation, at least for first world countries like ours.

The situation is not the same elsewhere. In other parts of the world, the situation is bleak and critical in countries like India and many third world places.

It looks like it will be a very long road to herd immunity even as vaccines continue to be administered. Experts are now suggesting that this virus will be around for some time and it will be necessary to have regular booster shots to deal with variants of concern that develop. That is more like we are used to dealing with in seasonal flu vaccinations.

Even though it sometimes seems like we are fighting a losing battle things are generally looking like they will move slowly back to some kind of normal eventually. However, that normalcy will take a year or more to appear. The process is constantly interrupted because some countries are so eager to start opening things up that it sets everything back to critical danger. Hopefully, we have learned that shutdowns, wearing masks, staying three metres apart and washing hands still stands out as the best way to deal with this virus and any other that might occur. We should not be too eager to take risks that would jeopardize the success we are having in managing this pandemic.

I am very thankful to the federal government, who were lobbied by our Indigenous political leadership across Canada, to make First Nations a priority with vaccinations. Indigenous people across the country and in particular in remote communities are impoverished, crammed into inadequate housing and people made to live in close quarters. It is a situation for a perfect storm of infection outbreaks when a new virus arrives. It is good to know that many lives have been saved with the advocacy of our Indigenous leaders and health workers. I hope that all those who first got vaccines months ago are being monitored so that we have meaningful data on the long term view when it comes to the vaccines everyone received.

In many conversations I have had with senior citizens they feel that care for the elderly may have been mismanaged. In one way they were given attention for vaccinations but on the other hand many of them were left to the care of private care homes that prioritized profits over proper care. This should be a wake up call that our Elders should be cared for in publicly funded homes that are not so concerned about profit. We owe it to our seniors to take the best possible care of them in their golden years.

Many of the elderly people I know also feel that priority for vaccinations should have been as important for those most at risk in public and industrial work spaces. If the argument was that Indigenous communities were a priority because of the potential for spread due to people being close together, why wasn’t the same logic applied to those workers mixing closely in the hundreds every day?

I want to say meegwetch, thanks to all those people who have had to go to work during this pandemic without having vaccines and putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk. This includes all health workers, miners, foresters, plant workers, workers in grocery industry, those in services and distribution as well as transportation. Those who were obligated to work in public environments should have been prioritized from the start. They are in situations where they are close to many others and that has been the cause of outbreaks over the past many months.

Lock downs work, yet we know that it is impossible to completely lock down mines, plants, industry, distribution centres, grocery stores and transportation. This would never happen as it would devastate the economy. Things are bad enough currently with our economy thanks to this world wide pandemic.

Continued vaccinations gives us a chance to manage this Covid19 virus. I have heard that many people are hesitant to do that and in particular there are many health professionals who are resisting getting a vaccine. That makes me sad because from what I have learned through the reports of epidemiologists and virologists is that the best way forward to managing this pandemic is by getting vaccinated. Hopefully, some day future generations will be reading in history books how we all pulled together to deal with this pandemic.


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Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.