Lessons learned

Written by Brenda Schimke

It’s invisible, stealth and turned the world upside down in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021.

The corona virus clearly revealed the vulnerability of humanity, but it also showed the best of humanity.

Professionals and employees in our medical and educational sectors have bent, but not broken.

Many workers risked their health, and sometimes lives, to keep our floundering economy alive—retail workers, restaurant employees, meat packing workers, energy sector employees housed in northern camps, civic workers, utility workers, foreign temporary agricultural workers, and civil servants administering government support programs.

Police, ambulance attendants, fire fighters, nursing home workers, social workers, churches and charities stepped up, under intense pressure to protect society from harm and help those most vulnerable, even as they endangered their own lives.

We can be thankful we live in a country with a nation-wide public health care system and a federal government committed to buying enough vaccines so that every Canadian, regardless of economic status, may get vaccinated.

We should also tip our hats to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., a corporate giant that kept its commitment to not lay off employees during COVID-19; and to small- and medium-sized businesses who applied for wage support subsidies to keep their employees on, even though business was slow.

Yes, there’s been tragedy as well for seniors living in care homes.

COVID highlighted the truth that has been happening behind closed doors of long-term care facilities.

Having visited and attended to seniors in care homes for decades, it became obvious to me some time ago that privately-run care homes are extremely effective when seniors are able to function on their own.

But once a senior becomes incapacitated, the profit-model often becomes inhumane.

That’s when nonprofits and governments are the only suitable agencies to provide care.

Changes to senior’s care could be a positive coming from this pandemic.

Many entertainers, artists, museums and fitness gurus have been creative in offering entertainment, virtual tours and fitness programs online.

Others, such as teachers, have created amazing on-line learning experiences. COVID isolation has allowed the creative in our society an opportunity to become even more creative.

We’ve been forced to slow down and enjoy the simple things—families eating and playing together, a good book or movie marathon, a clean house, a new recipe, a yard or garage project, or quiet and reflective time.

For many, it’s allowed us to take a breath and get out of the rat race for a season.

COVID has been deathly for some, others experienced long hospitalizations and severe symptoms, some continue to live with long-term COVID effects, while others testing positive have just mild or no symptoms at all.

For some of us we’ve lost loved ones or witnessed the worse of COVID symptoms. For others, we don’t know anyone who got, or died, from the virus. Still others live in areas virtually unaffected by the virus.

Understandably, such an unpredictable and varied viral attack often makes it difficult to understand and be empathetic to the infected and dying, when placed against our own joblessness or personal economic ruin.

But with a vaccine on the way and an Alberta government that seems to have finally got it, there will be more bright days in 2021 than we saw in 2020.

By next summer, life could be back to near-normal, alas, until the next pandemic.

The late American ecologist, Garret Hardin, said, “we need to learn to live happily with less than we can dream of”. That might be the only way we save the natural world and, in turn, save ourselves from future novel viruses. 


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.