Xavier Kataquapit: We can do this

Under the Northern Sky Columnist Xavier Kataquapit

by Xavier Kataquapit

(underthenorthernsky.com) – Like most people I am tired of this pandemic and being stuck at home without much change from one day to the next. Sometimes, I forget what day of the week it is or the day of the month.

My partner suffers from a chronic lung condition so we are very careful with our interactions and we have kept our visits with others on a very limited basis. Even when we do see people, we meet outdoors and stay socially distanced at two meters. After two years of Covid19 restrictions and careful social distancing we find ourselves adapting to a new normal in our way of living.

In some ways this new normal reality does not bother me as much as most people because I have a familiarity with this kind of life. This is similar in some ways to what life on a remote Native reserve feels like. Remote communities don’t have roads except for winter ice highways. That means people don’t have easy access to the outside world. Life is very contained and limited although we enjoy living in traditional ways on the land and water for hunting, fishing and gathering.

Many experts suggest that this pandemic will plague us for another two or three years. It could be with us for awhile. As the virus comes and goes in variants and waves, our medical experts and hospitals are becoming more capable of managing this disease with the creation of new antiviral medications and treatments. We are managing to deal with this pandemic.

We still have to be careful. The latest Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is a lot more infectious and experts believe that it does not cause as much severe disease. However, people everywhere are still becoming sick and have to leave their places of work at hospitals, public services and businesses. The problem with this new variant is that it is affecting many services as employees are becoming sick and must isolate. Our health care workers and essential staff are also suffering from constantly being at the front lines of this fight against the pandemic for more than two years. The only things that will help us to manage this pandemic relies on everyone getting vaccinated, wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands often.

So the answer to dealing with this ongoing pandemic might be one of acceptance and this means we have to adapt and make changes in our lives because of new realities. We have to live in a new world of change, where we are aware of the dangers of new infectious diseases like Covid19 and other diseases that might arrive on the scene. We are social beings and we like to explore our world as much as possible, meet people, be with people, see people and experience new places. In the future we will understand more how to protect ourselves when socially mixing and travelling. New technologies and behaviour will allow us to return to some kind of normal yet it might not be similar to how life was a few years ago.

We have changes to make on many levels including how we manage and affect our environment. Governments have to become much more serious in addressing climate change as we are seeing more and more signs of dramatic changes in weather and climate. Our ability to survive on Mother Earth is threatened and future generations will have to deal with our inaction. The planet itself has endured many catastrophic events throughout it history but we could be wiped off the face of the earth.

We shouldn’t see the necessity of changing our behaviours and adapting as a setback. In fact we need to change and adapt to survive. We have to be grateful and remember that we have it better here in Canada than in most other places in the world. Most of us have clean water to drink every day, a roof over our heads, access to food, security, health care and education. We are in the top ten percent of the lucky ones on this planet and we should not forget that.

I have hope that we can change because as humans we have had to adapt throughout our history in order to survive. In my own Cree culture on the James Bay coast, my people have had to make many drastic changes in a short period of time to adapt to new realities that came with colonization and we survived and continue to thrive. We can do this.

For more columns by Xavier Kataquapit visit www.underthenorthernsky.

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