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In Our Words: Lessons learned in 2020 extend to health, race, protest, hope for future

Holy crap, we’re only five months into this year and it’s already felt like a decade. What an incredible, overwhelming slog 2020 has been so far. It’s been maddening and exhausting for so many different reasons.

Holy crap, we’re only five months into this year and it’s already felt like a decade. What an incredible, overwhelming slog 2020 has been so far. It’s been maddening and exhausting for so many different reasons.

That said, along with the agony came a series of new lessons on life, loss and the world at large. I’ve noticed some things in the past little while - let’s see if we’ve got some thoughts in common.

  • Dress codes don’t matter when you’re working from home. When I go back to my office again full-time, I won’t miss much about this time, but I will miss being able to work from a couch in sweats.

  • Mask use is good. It’s not a weakness thing - it’s a kindness to other people thing, including for friends and family.

  • I appreciate how easy it is now to get food to my house - even if it costs extra, not having to put on actual “going outside” clothes to eat good is great.

  • There are plenty of issues in our world that we haven’t addressed - pay levels for essential workers, conditions in nursing and seniors homes, etc. - that we are now finding out about in large numbers. Let’s hope that in whatever the “new normal” is, we can fix that.

  • Murder hornets aren’t going to hurt you. They’re just not. The mosquitoes on the other hand… them suckers are vicious.

  • Your kids’ teacher is probably just being nice when they tell you they’re a “joy to have in class”. They’re only saying that because it’s bad form to openly tell a person how rotten their kid is - a lesson, no doubt, some parents trying to teach their kids from home have found out the hard way.

  • Any variety of self-care is worth its weight in gold. COVID-19 and almost every single other thing that has happened in the world this year sucked - whatever gets you through the day, as long as it harms no one else, is worth it.

  • Federal programs like CERB work. If you run a company and your employees make more on unemployment than they do working with you, you’re not an employer - you’re profiting off poverty. Also, keep in mind for some people, “reopening the economy” means “keeping workers from staying safe at home and collecting CERB until this is done”.

  • People who have never been majorly inconvenienced before in their lives aren’t taking it well. Oh, so you’re telling me you feel scared to go outside, you’re unsure how you’re going to get food, you’re worried about your job status and you’re looking for help wherever you can find it? Congratulations. Now you know what it’s like to live on the rez. Use that knowledge to improve things once we get back to normal.

  • Southerners cannot always be trusted to make the best decisions for the north, especially when northerners aren’t adequately consulted. Who the hell puts up a checkpoint between Flin Flon and Creighton, anyway?

  • Racism still exists. Thinking or behaving otherwise is dishonest. If you thought we weren’t going to touch the issues that have erupted around the world this past week, you thought wrong.

  • Black lives matter. Every life should matter, but until we can at least agree that black lives seem pretty cheap to some delinquent members of law enforcement, we’re not there yet.

  • Most of the police I’ve interacted with in my life have been exemplary, helpful people. That said, I know I’ve been lucky and not everybody has had my experiences. There is a long list of black people who have been unjustly killed by police and there are plenty of people who have had negative interactions with police. Their experiences are valid and their stories must be told.

  • Rioting is a form of protest. It’s the equivalent of getting mad at something at work, then coming home and taking it out on your family. You can’t fix or control the thing that made you mad, so you take the rage out on whoever’s closest to you. Is it constructive? No, but I can at least understand it. It’s rage. It’s a sign of real anger.

  • Whenever protesters have been interviewed, often they immediately denounce the people looting and destroying things. It’s important to keep in mind that most protesters are not destroying property and the message of the protests is more than reasonable. Also, I didn’t hear many of the anti-looting or anti-riot people complain back in 2011 when Vancouver lit half the city on fire because the Canucks lost a hockey game. Huh. Wonder why.

  • I hope during this situation that we can, in good faith, discuss some of Flin Flon’s own problems with racism. The way some people up here who look like me treat Indigenous people often sickens me. We have to understand First Nations culture and respect the travesties in our own history as Canadians. Negative behaviour by anyone Indigenous shouldn’t just be excused - far from it, but us easily sunburnt folk all need to show some basic human respect.

  • Whenever the subject of racism is brought up to people in a position of local power, they often say something like, “Now’s not the time to discuss that.” When is the time? Right now? Whenever it's politically convenient? Will it ever be?

  • Protest is necessary if there is a wrong that must be corrected. You don’t have to like the way it’s done. People were upset when football players kneeled. People were upset with peaceful demonstrations. People were upset when everyday citizens marched. I’m starting to realize that no form of protest will be good enough for some people.

  • It's hard to provide in-person support for protest movements from such an isolated place as Flin Flon, but I'll contribute whatever I personally can to help make our world better in one way or another. We all benefit from justice - and for too many people, that justice is long overdue.

  • I'm hopeful that something will change from this round of protests. The message of Black Lives Matter has gone out much further than Minnesota, much further than any of the dozens of other cases of undue force by police leading to the death of a unarmed black person. Sheer numbers make me think this could be the event that leads to lasting change in how black people are understood by non-black people and how the justice system operates.

  • I also know that I, as a white guy, am not going to know about what it's like to be a black person firsthand. I'm likely going to be awkward about racial issues or incorrect on certain key things - I've probably already made mistakes in this column. That said, I'll try to learn as much as I can about the issues at hand and make some kind of positive change.

  • On a lighter note, COVID-19 did give the north one backhanded gift - it gave us the fastest transition from winter to summer I’ve ever seen up here. It seems like just yesterday that we were shovelling out after the last dumps of snow. Now, we’re sitting in the shade. It seems to me like 2020 has been one long cruel joke by Mother Nature. Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst bits already.

However the rest of this year goes, I hope it’s kind to you and yours. If you need help, I hope you can find it. If you don’t, try to help others out if you can.

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