Remembering the dead

Written by Brenda Schimke

Robert, Edith, Thomas, Allen, Esther, Julia, Peter, Jacob, David, Margaret, Wilbert, Freida, John, Dorothy, Charles, Jack, Barry, Katherine, Brian, Richard, Murray, Larry, Dennis, Gayle, Hugh, Mary, James, Connie, Lillian, Lawrence, Gilbert, Karen, Emil, Clifford, Wayne, Marie, Brad, Lorrie, Jean, Bruce, Iona, Emma, Erma, Bob, Erma, Eleanor, Pete, Jack, Alvin, Cecil, Beulah, Walter, Martha, George, Brian, Bill, Larry, Sidney, Neil, Bert, Arthur, Matilda, Bertha, Doug, Mona, Elise, Ed, Albert, Arnold, Lenore, Doris, Evelyn, Wayne, Ronnie, Lois, Arlene, Joe, Jean, Ellen, Agnus, Michael, Lewis, Donald, Lucille, Chuck, Bernie, May, Mike, William, Cathy, Dominic, Mario, Gunther, Wolfgang, Sarah, Ethel, Beulah, Nancy, Edwin, Wolfgang.

One hundred names representing the dead from COVID-19. If you multiply those names by 9.85 then you’ll have the number of Albertans who died from COVID since July 1 when vaccines became readily available for all persons over 12, and Kenney declared ‘Open for Summer’. 

These together with the 2,301 who died before readily-available vaccinations, puts the total COVID death count in Alberta at 3,286.

Big numbers are hard to get our heads around, but be reminded there are over a thousand families who will have an empty chair at their Christmas table this year. 

I only know one person who died of Covid, a 48-year-old anti-vaxxer who leaves behind a wife, who had begged him to get vaccinated, and two children. For them their Christmas, and every day forward, will never be the same.

A quote attributed to Joseph Stalin, the Soviet mass murder of the 20th Century, is, “one death is a tragedy, millions of deaths are a statistic.” May we never reach the point where we don’t care about those dying from COVID or those medical personnel who care for them.

Today 81,600 Albertans sit on the province’s wait list for surgery—including surgeries for cancer, kidney transplants and joint replacements—and for many it is now too late. That doesn’t even capture the thousands of procedures, used to catch deadly diseases early, that have been postponed.

Many of us will be enjoying the Christmas season with Alberta’s relaxed COVID rules (five couples, vaccinated or unvaccinated, and unlimited numbers of children under 17), but I hope everyone is also accepting the inevitable fifth wave. We’re done with COVID, but COVID isn’t done with us!

With Omicron now an aerosol spreader rather than a droplet spreader, and resistant to two-dose vaccinations, indoor events are even more dangerous. We only need to watch the postponement of professional sports to see how Omicron has beaten double vaccinations and pre-game COVID testing.

Alas, we now need a minimum of three doses, tightened public health restrictions, more travel advisories and most likely—dependant upon our Christmas behaviour—an overwhelming fifth wave.

Christmas is the season of love and sharing but our health experts are predicting that Omicron may be the ‘biggest sharer of them all’.

Pausing to remember the COVID dead and their families this Christmas season is important. It makes us more mindful of how our actions do affect others. 

The Alberta Government’s facts and myths web page states that ‘over 99.98 per cent of vaccines administered in Alberta had no serious side effects’. There have also been zero deaths from the vaccination in Alberta, compared to 3,286 COVID deaths—decent odds, I’d say.

Perhaps the best gift we can give our families this year is the life-saving gift of getting vaccinated. 

Our fate, and the fate of others, is in our collective hands, not the government’s. Governments just keep mopping up the mess caused by our individual actions, in what must often seem like a losing battle to save the economy, save lives and save our public health care system.


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.