Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Love Letter to My Community

Dear Readers,

We have been through a lot over the past 18 months, and we have been getting through it together. This pandemic has upended our lives, and it has shattered our daily routines, but through it all I have been proud to call this community home.

In the early days of this pandemic, none of us really knew what to expect. There was fear and anxiety, particularly when we saw bare shelves in our local grocery store: flour, cleaning supplies, toilet tissue disappeared from the shelves seemingly overnight – not something we in posh Ontario have experienced in our lifetimes.

In spite of stay at home orders and social distancing protocols this community has been a shining example of small town spirit. Neighbours looking out for neighbours, picking up groceries for those housebound due to quarantine, or offering rides to medical appointments. This community has put on full display the compassion, empathy, and concern that we have for one another.

The vast majority in this community have faithfully followed face covering protocols, not that we have liked it, but we have committed ourselves to the common goal of doing whatever required to put this virus behind us. We have closed our businesses and worked from home, some have been laid off from their jobs, while others have lost their employment and are in search of work.

Most of our fun has been stripped from us during this ordeal. Live music has ground to a halt, virtually all public events have been cancelled, some have been cancelled for a second year. Our children have been in class, then out of class, then back in. This has most certainly been a confusing time for our youth, and I credit them with making the best of a wretched situation.

It hasn’t been easy, but nobody promised us that it would be.

While my adopted community has shone throughout this pandemic, we haven’t always played nice together. The frustrations and elevated anxiety levels have led to disagreements and bickering, and thrown into the mix has been a conspiracy movement that has muddied the waters and caused significant debate, sometimes nasty in tone.

We have seen neighbours snitching on neighbours, we have seen attempts at shaming on social media. As much as this pandemic has highlighted the best of us, it has also shone a bright spotlight on the worst of us.

On the whole, however, this community has responded remarkably well throughout this pandemic, and I have never been more proud to call Meaford home. Very early on in this pandemic I came down with a cough and cold, and though I didn’t think it was anything more, out of an abundance of caution, and as recommended by the province, I quarantined at home for 14 days. And during that time, without even asking, friends dropped off supplies, or ran errands for me. I’m not so sure I would have seen the same sort of community support in a larger, urban community.

As of Monday evening, Grey-Bruce has seen 1,336 of its residents infected with the virus, and there are currently 38 active cases (the numbers are fluid and change daily). Five Grey-Bruce residents have lost their lives to the virus, a small number to be sure, and thankfully so, but five lives lost, five families are grieving.

We need only to scour the world news to see how badly some regions have been impacted by the virus. We have indeed been very fortunate here in Grey-Bruce, but we shouldn’t just chalk up our low numbers to good fortune; we should take some credit as a community for taking the pandemic seriously, following the guidance of the local health unit. We might have gotten lucky, or it could be that we as a community simply did many things right.

Thank you to my community. From the dyed in the wool born and raised Meafordites, to folks like me who chose this community to call home. In the 16 years I have lived in this municipality there has never been any question of just how close knit and proud this community is, and this pandemic, as wretched as it has been, has only served to bolster my love of this community, my friends, and neighbours.

The end of this pandemic is within reach. It isn’t going to last forever, so we all just need to do what we have been doing, and with any luck by Canada Day our daily lives will look much different than the past 18 months.

Be Safe,

Stephen Vance, Proud Meaford Resident

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