Keep Calm & Carry On

It might not seem like there’s much to celebrate these days. Times are tough and the world seems to have gone mad.

As of January 11th, a year to the date marking the very first death due to the CORONA-19 virus, two million people have taken their last pained pandemic-caused breath. That very first death occurred in China, and many since have happened on Canadian soil, too. So much tragedy. So much loss. And we are not immune to the pain.

Ex-pats & livyers

As a province with almost as many ex-pats as livyers, just because our case numbers and deaths here are lower than most doesn’t mean there haven’t been personal struggles felt by those of us at home. Ontario, a province where so many Newfoundlanders have settled, is facing a crisis, projecting no room at the inn numbers when it comes to the availability of hospital beds. That’s the real tragedy when dealing with a pandemic. Having ICU beds occupied by those affected by an unforgiving virus means there’s none available for anyone else; not car accident victims, not stroke patients, and not those suffering a heart attack.

With a mandatory stay at home order now issued, Ontario faces some staggering possible statistical losses due to the virus. And Alberta? The province that helped bankroll our own for decades? Well, things are not coming up roses in the wild rose province either.

At a time of the year when many a Newfoundlander once prepared to start packing for leisurely vacations down south, unrest the likes I’ve never seen in my lifetime, and as inauguration day for the embattled 46th president loomed, plans for more violent attacks on U.S. soil carried out – not by anti-American radicals – but by American citizens against their own noble symbol of democracy, fists raised towards the Capital and Congress.

And this sadly isn’t ‘fake news.’ The FBI were on alert, warning state and local law enforcement officials in all 50 states to be on alert as protests were being planned throughout all capitals leading up to and including inauguration day. This all days following the Trump-supporting ‘mob’ that stormed the Capital where lives were lost. 

Donald Trump, who was still president of the United States of America as of this writing, isn’t allowed on social media, banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for eternity. Imagine?

This week marks an interesting anniversary for those of us on Newfoundland soil. Snowmageddon struck on January 17th, 2020, and as the state of emergency was declared Newfoundlander stormtroopers gleefully grabbed shovels and dusted off funny bones and headed out to face the nearly unfathomable. Neighbour helped neighbour once the snow stopped falling and while families hunkered down as the storm raged, before long all headed out for some snow-of-a-lifetime family fun. 

 Humoured hunker

From creating epic snow sculptures to month’s worth of snowshoeing and sledding ‘yehaws!’ it was a wild and woolly, yet incredibly unforgettable, winter. And before the snowdrifts cleared, the pandemic reached our shores. Still, as we did through snowmageddon, Newfoundlanders carried on and never lost their willing to help others spirit.

Putting the safety of others before our own comfort, we donned masks as asked. Us normally social shed-party then gather on the wharf types limited our social activity. We supported local. And, because we did so, Newfoundlanders weathered yet another storm with, for the most part, grace and kindness – and most importantly, low infection numbers. But then Newfoundlanders are not strangers to hunkering down with humour when times are tough. 

From continuing to earn a living on an unrelenting sea in the decades since the moratorium to our quest for oil and the fight for the rights to economically advance because of it, we’ve always kept calm, carried on, and persevered.

There’s not a pandemic or political upheaval or prodigious snowstorm that can keep us down and that alone is something worth celebrating.

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