Doing our Best

Throughout the pandemic, my personal disruptions have been mere irritants. I’ve not lost my job, I’ve not had delayed medical procedures, and I’ve not cancelled travel plans. I’m old enough to be retired, lucky enough to be healthy and grateful to be able to satisfy my need for novelty with local trips. I’ve also been able to meet new and interesting people via the internet. 

Canada's Human Rights Museum, Winnipeg
As an EAL volunteer with a local immigrant centre, I’ve learned about faraway places. Mostly, I’ve learned that people are people, no matter what their home language might be or the nature of their government. Through them I get a human view of current affairs, but it also helps me appreciate history. Just as cultural and political environments shape a person today, so it shaped the people of the past. As someone who’s often immersed in the past, it’s empowering to recognize the humanity of us all. Whether Chinese or Ukrainian, living in a fascist country or a democracy, we all have the same range of emotions, basic needs and desires.

The opportunities that this pandemic, through the magic of modern technology, has given me to connect one-on-one with newcomers to Canada makes me again appreciate the choice my own parents made back in the fifties. Engaging with current immigrants, whom I admire for their courage and their hope, reminds to never be complacent about the opportunities in this country. 

Imagine living in China where the work motto is ‘996’. That’s shorthand for working from nine until nine, six days a week. Imagine living in Ukraine where in some towns, it's cheaper to get a fake vaccination certificate than an actual shot . . . a country where no one trusts that what the doctor injects in you is in fact a vaccine and not some random liquid. Imagine living in Russia where my new release, Tainted Amber, would be banned because it depicts Nazi youth on the cover and might distort Russia’s determination to revise the Stalin years. A new piece of legislation,  Federal Law No. 280-FZ , was enacted in Russia back in July which forces bookstores to pull offending materials.

I know that Canada has problems. Lots of problems. But we’re trying. Aren’t we? 

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