Zack Gross
Zack Gross

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Canadians True to Form During Spring from Hell

Brandon Sun “Small World” Column,  Monday, May 4 / 20

Zack Gross

Who would have thought, a few months ago, that our spring would be one of a massive COVID-19 shutdown with the accompanying reality of many illnesses and deaths; of Canada’s largest mass shooting with horrifying loss of life; and most recently a military helicopter crash again resulting in death?  These horrible global, national, provincial and local situations are, of course, what makes the news.  Add to that any personal disappointments or, indeed, tragedies we may have faced and the annual stories of spring flooding that hit various regions.

As they say, hindsight is 20-20, but our 2020 actually has blindsided us!  Just with people I am in touch with, vacations have been canceled, weddings have been rescheduled, surgeries have been postponed, and of course we know of so many conferences, concerts, sports events, festivals, exhibitions and more that will now have to wait until later starts, or even 2021. 

In Europe, the loss of life has been truly frightening.  Many of the historic cities that we have visited, or dream to do so, have literally been depopulated.  In Asia, some are already experiencing that “second wave” of COVID that we have heard we might get in the fall.  In the developing world, where poverty and conflict will help spread the virus, it is in its very early stages.  In the US, our neighbour and ally, more have died of COVID than did throughout the Vietnam War.

As we live in a small world, there aren’t too many degrees of separation between each of us and people affected by the various tragedies on-going.  It may be a relative or friend who has COVID.  It may be friend of a friend who has been killed in Nova Scotia.  It might be a connection to the Canadian military that makes the helicopter crash more real.

If this is a test, then I for one don’t think we are doing too badly.  Canadians generally tend to, as the athletes say, “not get too high or too low”.  We don’t mind obeying reasonable rules of behaviour and mostly don’t see social distancing or businesses shuttering as any kind of conspiracy or political takeover.  We appreciate what governments are doing to combat the disease and to lessen the financial burden, although maybe we wish they could do more and do it more quickly.

For some people, this is a frustrating time waiting to have something to do – to get back to work, to enjoy the nicer weather, to go to that game or concert that they’ve been waiting for, to get back into a normal routine.  For others, this might be a time of discovery – listening to music, reading books there’s never been time for, getting reacquainted with one’s spouse (hopefully a good thing!), playing games with family on-line and so on.

For some people, there has never been a busier time!  Whether they decided to volunteer or have a job that is essential or a home businesses that is enhanced by the virus, there can be much to do if you are able.  As well, this may be a time of great savings for future initiatives!  Less money spent on gas, or clothes for work, or lunches out means maybe an extra mortgage payment or nice vacation when we can travel again.

For others concerned about loss of jobs and health of senior family members, it is a time of stress.  Someone close to me said that now they understand the idea of and need for a “rainy day fund”, for these are indeed rainy days for some.

And there is a change in who our heroes are, as we salute the people we maybe hardly noticed before and who often earn minimum wage – workers in grocery and other similar stores, food delivery folks and so on.  I think we have always depended on and appreciated our health care workers, or is that just me as I am married to one and also recently had a couple of major hospital stays.  Who had heard of Dr. Brent Roussin and Lannet Saragusa before?

So, from me – on health and COVID-19, stick with the science, Canada!  On re-opening, be cautious, Canada!  And to those who serve our needs in so many ways – in enforcement, in health care, in education, in public life, in food banks and other social development non-profits, in the media - thanks, Canada!

Zack Gross is Board Chair of
The Marquis Project, a Manitoba-based international development organization.

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