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Thank you pandemic for what you have taught us in the last several months. 

You took your toll on our senior population and that was painful; so many lost their parents without the opportunity to say goodbye or exchange one final hug. That hurt. And it hurt to find out that so many of them spent their last days in such horrid conditions, abandoned and alone. But you showed us that we are not taking care of one of our most vulnerable populations – our Elders and it is time to act.

We also learned that we do not pay health-care workers enough for the important work they do – heroes on the front lines too often caught running between homes to do what they could and sadly sometimes carrying the virus with them. Many workers became sick and some lost their lives too. Though you were merciless in your pursuit of the living, you showed us who we were failing and told us it’s time to do better.

Thank you for showing us the face of our heroes, some of whom we never suspected. Our sanitation crews who were put at risk every time they emptied a container; our janitors who scrubbed surfaces with sanitizer so we could enter grocery stores, hospitals, and other places of necessity. Thank you to our transit drivers who exposed themselves to danger every shift, stepping onto buses to get our essential workers to the job or carry them safely home – some of them lost their lives, too. Then there were the grocery store clerks, postal workers, police, city crews and of course, our health-care workers at every level who put their lives on the line all over the world to care for us and often without the support of their governments.

Fighting a war against a deadly global virus was not necessarily what medical personnel signed up for. They did not know that they might become a quasi-military force in their own right to fight you – the pandemic – armed with nothing more than respirators, thermometers, ventilators and kind loving words to save or heal our victims wounded by you. Health-care workers signed on to save lives … that is their nature, but in this war, saving those lives also cost many their own. 

But thank you pandemic for showing us how we failed our homeless and that contrary to popular thought, providing homes for them is not something we do just for them. We do it for ourselves. One of the greatest fears throughout this ordeal was that an outbreak in the homeless community where risky behaviors are more common, could have easily jumped into the wider community having a devastating impact on us all. 

Much to its credit, the GNWT is looking at transitional housing where quarantine could be practiced with more ease. Hitting our hearts hard was seeing people on the streets with NO WHERE to go even at times when it was so cold and when other common havens such as the library or A&W were closed. To see their wide, fear-based eyes staring back from door entries was at times like something from a horror movie. Indeed, you brought out the best in us. Those who jumped in to make masks, shop for seniors, or friendly phone calls. 

Thank you pandemic for giving the Earth a break – really.

You forced us to hit the brakes so fast and so hard that overnight, planes were grounded and vehicle traffic came to a crashing halt. From that, we learned again what fresh air smelled like and our plants and animals sprang to life with such openly happy animation that we joined their dance together. And now, for this brief blip in time, when we look up – we see clear blue skies with REAL clouds. Thank you – you gave this beleaguered planet of ours a little time to heal and reminded us that when we push against nature too hard, there will be repercussions. 

 And most of all, thank you for showing us how important our quality time is with each other and that loving human contact does indeed make the world go round.  We do not know yet the toll this has taken behind closed doors where domestic violence and child abuse could have taken on a life of its own. But for many, it helped us know and appreciate ourselves and each other again. In this crazy world we have created, we cannot know or appreciate anyone else if we are too busy to even know ourselves. 

Pandemic … you brought us to our knees but maybe that’s where we needed to be. Let’s hope we move forward incorporating the lessons you taught us because we know that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Namaste.

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