2020 YEAR IN REVIEW | Diana Huson, Regional Councillor

Small acts of kindness make big difference

At this time last year COVID-19 was just a blip on our radar. We had heard of a curious respiratory illness making its way through international circles, but it seemed far away and unlikely to hit our shores. What a difference a year can make.

Last week I found myself oddly envious of a friend’s video of their dog at the dog park. The dog and another dog were roughhousing. Complete strangers. Clearly not from the same household. Not a mask in sight. They were blissfully oblivious to the pandemic, breathing and slobbering all over one another. Their joy was infectious. I admired them. I also reflected on what a strange thought this was, yet it’s completely reflective of our times. I’m ready to move from 2020! I bet you are too.

I’m writing this on Sunday, December 13. Niagara Public Health has just confirmed an additional 65 cases on Saturday and 71 cases today. Three new outbreaks have also been declared, including one at the Welland hospital, bringing our total active number of outbreaks across Niagara to 18. Our active case count sits at 337. We’ve also received a strong indication that Niagara will be moved into the red zone by Christmas, and along with it be impacted by a slew of new restrictions. The news seems grim.

Needless to say, this was not what I envisioned for my first term as your Regional Councillor. The pandemic came upon us so quickly in those initial few months it was hard to stay up to date and share information in a constantly changing environment. News of a vaccine couldn’t arrive soon enough. Yet I expect there may be further confusion as public health officials determine how best to roll it out, who should take priority, storage, distribution, supply and all of the other factors that go into a national vaccination program that was needed, quite frankly, yesterday. Please know that we’re all still trying to figure it out and do the best we can to help protect our communities.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, some more so than others. We’ve missed milestones. We’ve cancelled plans for the future. We’ve lost loved ones. But our community stepped up in a meaningful way.

We kept connected to our loved ones and reached out to our neighbours. We picked up some groceries where we could. Our community groups jumped into action for those in need. We’ve supported our local businesses. We embraced a caring and compassionate mindset towards those around us, and we’re better for it. I would encourage you to please keep doing so! You never how much a small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.

So instead of an update on the budget or the inner workings of our Regional government, I hope you’ll entertain a message of a more personal nature. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a bit more time. It will take patience, endurance and perseverance. It may also take a change of perspective.

Most of us have a roof over our head. We have access to food, safe drinking water, and medical attention. Some of us can work from home. We can Zoom with family and friends or call them on the phone. We can go out if we have to. Thankfully the shortage of paper towels and toilet paper ended months ago! Most of us are in general good health. Some are feeling the ill effects of the physical separation from family and friends, but with time I believe we will recover.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we emphasized the message that “We’re in this together.” Let’s double down on that message. Let’s find strength in a difficult situation, find courage to continue on and pause and reflect on the things that are important to us. There is so much in life to be thankful for and we can help lighten the load for others by being there for one another.

I wish all of you the very happiest of holidays, and good health in the new year.