By Pauline Kerr
The year 2021 had a bit of everything – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Across Canada, the operative word for weather in 2021 was “ugly” – drought, fires, floods. It has become blatantly obvious that global climate change is not something that will happen in the future if we fail to change our ways. It is happening now. And it is not something that will impact only distant countries while we remain unscathed.
The bad, without question, was COVID again – not so much the virus itself, at least in this area, but the effect on the country as a whole.
We have learned how fragile our long-term care system is. We lost too many elderly residents of care homes, not because of the ravages of the disease, but because of lack of everything from government funding and oversight to proper staffing and even personal protective equipment. Small measures have been taken to shore up the system but much more is needed.
There was sad – the community lost some truly remarkable people in 2021. Perhaps the saddest part was our inability to mourn them as families and communities. COVID restrictions prevented us from that, and from giving or getting a comforting hug.
There was new – who would have thought the day would come when a person would have to show proof of vaccination to attend a minor hockey game at the local arena? We did it, though, without making much of a fuss, for the sake of the kids on the ice.
There was weird – fist fights breaking out over wearing (or not wearing) masks in public places, and getting, or not getting vaccinated against COVID. Medical personnel getting attacked was even weirder – as if they were responsible for the very disease they risked their lives on a daily basis to cure!
It is impossible to categorize political disruptions on local, national and international levels, since they covered everything from bad, sad and weird, to disgusting. The storming of the Capitol will not go down as one of the prouder moments in the history of our neighbour to the south. That said, we had our share of political upheaval on this side of the 49th, even locally, leading to calls for civility, co-operation and calm. For the most part, those calls were heeded.
Despite all the negative, there was a surprising amount of good. We enter 2022 with an economy that is humming along quite nicely, in a large part due to timely and effective programs from all levels of government. However, we must not downplay the determination of local business owners. They did whatever it took to keep going – they innovated, embraced technology, and developed new ways of doing things. Some found new customers in unexpected places, and some found new ways of serving existing customers. A few thrived while most held on by a thread. But the important thing is they held on.
As we bid farewell to 2021, we pray for a kinder, gentler, less challenging 2022. Even the strongest, most resilient of communities needs to stop and catch its collective breath sometimes.
New Year’s celebrations, whether they involve four police cars in the driveway or a quiet walk along snow-covered streets, offer us the opportunity to stop and take stock, before moving forward.
The resolutions we make for 2021 will surely reflect optimism and determination. We can and will change what needs changing.
We may not accomplish all our goals but we can make a start. There is an old saying that journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
We have a lot of first steps to take on a lot of issues. The provincial and municipal elections of 2022 give us opportunities to voice concerns about issues that must be resolved if we are to progress as a community, and as a province.
If we learned nothing else from 2021, we learned the sky is the limit on what we can accomplish.
We can and will resolve to make 2022 a better year for everyone.