Thursday Tidbits

Posted on March 26, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

See you in August, Kangiqsujuaq


And, just like that, it ended.

Since our school closed a week and a half ago, I have been in turmoil trying to decide what to do. With school not set to reopen until early May, I had the option of heading home for the next five weeks and to return in May. But with the pandemic and all the new measures being imposed by provinces, territories and the Federal government, I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to come back in May. My biggest fear is that schools would reopen and that my students wouldn’t have a teacher for the balance of the school year. School finishes at the end of May up here.

After a great deal of soul searching and collaboration with family and friends, I decided this past Monday that I would take my chances and go home… if I could indeed get home.

While there are no cases of coronavirus in our community as of this writing, this does not mean that we are immune. I started weighing the health risks of staying or leaving. If I stayed and there was an outbreak, this would be very problematic and scary. The underservicing in the north is all professions is well documented, none more so that in health care. While our community is blessed with a wonderful medical clinic staffed by competent nurses, they wouldn’t be able to manage a serious situation like this. The nearest hospital is more than an hour away by plane and with weather, there is never a guarantee of getting out.

I am well aware that there are risks in travelling these days. For me to get home will require three different flights with three different airlines. The planes up north are small so social distancing is not possible. I will be spending time in airports with people arriving home from various parts of the world.

At the end of the day, I decided, somewhat selfishly, that if I was going to get sick, I’d rather be sick at home where I have access to world class health care in my own town.

A friend who spent many years in the north gave me additional insights. The people most vulnerable to the virus are seniors and nowhere are seniors more revered than in indigenous communities. Many of us southerners who will be leaving will ease the strain on the health care system should an outbreak occur.

Shortly after notifying my principal that I planned to leave, an announcement was made that schools would remain closed for the balance of the school year. Once again, selfishly, I was relieved that the decision to leave had been made for me and that my students wouldn’t be left in the lurch had I not been able to come back in May.

I’m anticipating that getting home won’t be easy but that is to be expected. With the new rules in place in Nova Scotia, I will self- isolate for 14 days upon my return.

If I ever write my autobiography, this will be one of the craziest chapters in my life. I’m sure it will be for many others as well. It’s all a giant blur. I feel certain that I am not the only one who wakes up everyday wondering if this is all real.

It feels like a tornado is ripping the planet apart and that we’ll only be able to assess the damage and pick up the pieces when it eventually stops. The loss of life and employment will be high. The financial repercussions will be felt for a very long time. It would appear that Mother Nature has hit the reset button.

From the gazillion Facebook posts, it would appear that many people have discovered the joys of cooking a home cooked meal; of reading a book; of playing games; of having time to relax. With the prospects of a new baby boom in December (!) it is quite possible that people have also rediscovered “The Joy of Sex.” I see you old timers nodding and grinning. This book was published back in the 1970s. The author was Dr.Alex Comfort. I’m not making this up.

We will pick up the pieces when the contagion ends but we’ll have to bring our “A Game”. We’ve actually started by the many acts of generosity and kindness being shown during these exceedingly difficult times.

I remember vividly when the Harlem All Stars, an off shoot of the Harlem Globetrotters, came to Antigonish in the 1960s. When the exhibition ended, the captain of the team addressed the crowd. He thanked them for coming and closed with this. “Please drive home carefully for the life you save may be mine.”

Today, we are being asked to do the same thing. We are being asked to be responsible and to do the right thing. By your selfless acts, you may save the life of a parent, grandparent, or friend.

The road ahead is not going to be easy, but humans have demonstrated resilience before and they will do so again.

Stay safe.

P.S. I am planning to come back to Kangiqsujuaq for a second year. Unfinished business.

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