Nunavut, the largest territory in Canada, is currently COVID-19 free. Yet, it has followed the rest of Canada's pandemic protocols and has gone into shutdown mode. Although there are no confirmed cases of the spreading-like-fire virus, it remains one of the most at risk places. Why? Because Nunavut is an at-risk territory on a normal day.
The vast tundra, Inuit land, has been ravaged by a different type of plague before. Colonialism. Stripping culture and traditions, the many communities of Nunavut have struggled for decades; some more than others. From food insecurity, identity theft, and substance related problems, the Inuit are beyond resilient. Yet they still struggle. Yet the rest of Canada is still quite quiet on the continuous third world conditions of its Northern people. If and when COVID-19 reaches the North, it has the high potential to decimate.
As someone currently living in the territory of Nunavut but originally from Toronto, I can easily see the panic around the pandemic occurring among my friends "down south" who are in the midst of it all. My mother too, a high-risk individual, diabetes, asthma, and a crappy immune system, resides in the midst of it all. I told my father yesterday on the phone, "take care of her. And take care of you, because if you catch it, she will too."
You see, I am not worried or scared of the virus personally. I am nervous for my parents. I am nervous for the health care system and well-being of the North. But furthermore, I am intrigued. I am intrigued at how this epidemic will play out. I am intrigued about how the world will evolve and grow and continue in the next few weeks.
They say that since Italy has gone into full lock-down that the Venice canal has cleared up and they are seeing dolphins. Now while I doubt there are dolphins, and that was actually incorrect information that went viral, the canal is clearing up. In other places around the world, animals are seen entering civilian areas without fear or care. The Earth is reclaiming itself. And honestly, it's beautiful to me, and about damn time.
We have been neglecting the land for way too long without enough thought as to how fast the Earth will bite back.
When I was in middle school I remember one day all the students were crowded into the gym to watch a film about a world where all the humans suddenly disappeared. It showed how the Earth would change and recover from all the human activity; a reclamation and rebirth. The film stuck with me for years, yet I could never remember the name. Last year I finally went on a real Google hunt for the film and discovered it under the title Aftermath: Population Zero (2008). It is definitely a film that I will revisit while my workplace is shut down. I recommend many watch it as well. There is something oddly beautiful and bittersweet about it. Like in our everyday human life conflicts, sometimes you just need to step back.
So what do we do now?
1) Well, wash your goddamn hands.
2) Avoid gatherings of over 6 people, especially in small confined spaces. If you're living in a household of over 6 people, like many Inuit in the North #overcrowding #housingshortage, then try to avoid increasing the amount of bodies in the homes.
3) Don't panic buy, it just creates more panic and more shortages.
4) For those who can, go out on the land, spend time away from the city, people, social media, etc. Take a breath of some fresh air.
5) Keep your mind sharp and busy. Since schools are closed right now, and not everyone is participating in e-learning, find other ways to learn. Learn to cook a new meal, to sew, to draw, to build something out of recyclables, etc. I for example, am reviewing Grade 8 Math, it's keep me busy (and at times making me feel a little stupid but that's okay).
6) Check on your friends and family by phone or online, because if you're feeling bored or lonely, I bet they are too.
7) Help each other out, in any way you can. It is much better to be united in times like these. You never know how much of a difference you're making in someone's life- let's make a positive difference.
And last but not least,
8) Take a deep breath, and keep calm.
Love you all, stay safe <3
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