Resilience Rocks

by BERNIE HUCUL

Resilience Rocks

by BERNIE HUCUL

A short three months ago, residents of Salmon Arm and the Shuswap, were dreaming of the upcoming warm weather ahead.

We had so much to look forward to, spring and summer life in the Thompson Shuswap is great! After a snowy Canadian winter, people wanted to spread their wings and plans were set for spring break, when families could fly away or go on a road trip. Gardeners were flipping through seed catalogues, music buffs were purchasing early bird tickets to Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, hockey enthusiasts were eagerly waiting to see their Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the first round of the BCHL playoffs and plans were being drawn up for the annual Children’s Festival.

Foreshadowing of trouble ahead was announced on December 31, 2019, when the China-WHO Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology detected in Wuhan City. It was a new form of coronavirus featuring human to human transmission. On March 11, we learned the WHO had declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

Here in the Shuswap, we watched the news media with apprehension as the spread of Covid-19 marched around the world – February 12, 2,022 confirmed cases in China; March 21, Italy with 6,557 cases; April 1, Spain, 9,222; April 10, USA 35,386 with 925 deaths. By contrast, Canada saw 222,148 cases on April 10, with 621 deaths.

Locally, it seemed the first indication that times were changing was when toilet paper and hand sanitizer began to fly off the supermarket shelves – the hoarding began.

On March 17, BC Premier John Horgan announced K-12 schools would be closing. Then it seemed almost daily, there was a spate of cancellations and closures of programs and services. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ BCHL season was cancelled and Salmon Arm Minor Hockey ended teams’ seasons, along with the KIJHL. The Children’s Festival was halted along with the Roots and Blues Festival, and more recently the Salmon Arm Fall Fair. All non-essential services were closed across our area. Restaurants, Bars and the Casino were closed.

Quarantining for folks coming home from out of the country, self isolation, social/physical distancing, hand washing and the wearing of masks became the norm.

However, in the face of the pandemic, people of the Shuswap area were showing their resilience. Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison said, “I have never been prouder of our residents than over the past nine weeks. When we had to close our recreation facilities, the community supported the move. Then we had to shut playgrounds and outdoor play areas. Again, the community backed the closures.

Our Social Services Agencies have gone far beyond their mandates. When crisis hits, our vulnerable population suffers the most. We cannot forget our frontline workers – those in our health care facilities, caring for the ill and elderly, our grocery store employees, ensuring we can purchase essentials. These workers have put themselves at risk, for the greater good. They are true heroes.”

The Rotary Clubs of Salmon Arm banded together to donate $5,000 to each of the local Food Banks. They organized the recent Dr’Agonize Dragon Boat Team Gratitude Parade through Salmon Arm, where some 40 cars participated, driving past locations where essential workers were still on the job, beeping their horns.

The Rotary Club of Salmon Arm has announced a new campaign to raise $20,000 for the SAFE Society and Second Harvest.

Neighbours in a Salmon Arm subdivision came outside with signs and banged pots and buckets to show appreciation for a hospital worker. People in lineups at grocery stores waited patiently for their turn at the checkout till, thanking  the employees for all of their hard work.

Families found ways to stay creative during their self-isolation, like the Calkins family who produced a video, where they sang about their efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Outdoor enthusiasts found walking on local trails, or digging in the garden, as a great way to pass the time. Some sat for hours creating Ukrainian eggs (pandemic pysanka) over Easter, while others painted rocks to support health care workers, or they went fishing on Shuswap Lake. All were great ways to avoid the virus.

Yes, we have all been affected in one way or another. We will be navigating uncharted waters, but we do have a paddle, where handwashing, plexiglass barriers, shopping with masks and gloves, home schooling, social distancing have become commonplace. If we follow the rules setup by our federal and provincial health officials, we will get through this thing – together apart.

Globally, researchers, immunologists and scientists are racing towards the development of Covid-19 vaccines, remedies and treatments.

We all hope that after our current trials and tribulations our leaders will have the nuts and bolts in place in order to handle future pandemics effectively.

Photos by Coralie Hucul

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