Making a difference during COVID-19

When the Seniors’ Centre closed its doors for coffee in Planet Veregin, we knew stuff must be getting real.

And the same for gathering places all over our region. Social distancing just can’t work. After all, can it really be called “Coffee Row” if we can’t sit shoulder to shoulder in Raymond’s, or Lam’s, complaining about the carbon tax? Of course not.

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Here in the Parkland of Saskatchewan, we have been privileged to live in a tiny, perfect bubble.  We didn’t have to worry about subway commutes, crowded airline terminals or Costco lineups.  We’re resilient prairie people and probably can rely on the contents of our pantries and cold storages and our aunties’ freezers for quite some time. We’re practical. Flour is the new toilet paper. Our elders reinforced the principle of no waste. Today’s roast chicken is tomorrow’s soup.

But we cannot and should not be complacent. Things change on a dime and just recently the COVID-19 virus touched our communities.

Our responsibilities are common all over this country, whether we live in Toronto or in the RM of Keys. And we’re carrying them out. The difference in our weekly grocery shopping experience speaks volumes. Limited and guarded visiting, if at all. The two-meter rule is being observed. Our local governments are leading the way with quick and practical emergency planning and the larger governing bodies are doing the best to ensure we flatten the curve too. 

We are more subdued about our daily business, and more aware of the larger world to which we belong. We’re swimming in uncharted waters and every day brings a new wave of information, difficult to comprehend, harder to accept.

But let’s remember who we are, who we came from. We’re tough, we’re hardy, we’re co-operative and we care deeply about one another. Every one of us will find a way, within the regulations that we are happy to follow, to continue interacting with our neighbours and friends.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be called social distancing. Perhaps it should be called physical distancing, and social cohesion.

So for us, it means checking up on our aunties whose health care may be compromised. Leaving a jar of soup on the doorstep, because very likely, you’ll get a couple dozen beet rolls from her freezer, waiting on that very doorstep. It means connection with your best friends, who are isolated after a hot holiday. Except instead of sharing coffee across the kitchen table, we sit on their deck and they sit in their kitchen and we just talk in loud voices.

It means cross-country checkups with your far-flung family, on a daily basis. What did we ever do without FaceTime?  It means phoning our shut-ins. They’re scared and feeling even more isolated then ever. It means honouring all our service providers. Have we ever appreciated our health care workers, our grocery and service station workers, more than today?  Let’s let them know! It means supporting our local businesses who are suffering because of closed doors. Can we pay it forward for our cleaning person, our hairdresser, our favourite pizza guy?

We are looking forward to better days ahead and they are coming, of that I am sure. Believe the science. Follow the rules. Be kind to one another. And, in the meanwhile, we just want to thank our neighbours, our friends, our communities for the social solidarity, that, if practiced together, will bring this perilous time to a much quicker and successful conclusion.

Linda Osachoff and Alfredo Converso