Being stuck in quarantine is the same as being Canadian

At the end of the day, our true colors will show.

Canadian citizens are starting to see the effects of social distancing being reported in the news. It’s working. Even though our hospitals are receiving cases daily, they are not receiving the cases in a bulk that is too much to handle at one time. Instead, the cases come in a steady stream.

This is what we hoped for. And with our curve starting to mimic the shape of other countries that are also flattening their curves, there are discussions about re-opening some businesses in Canada. The signs from provinces like Alberta are encouraging.

It’s looking good, but it’s not the whole picture. Even though these countries that are avoiding catastrophes that Italy has suffered in her hospitals, their progression numbers don’t deny the fact that large portions of their populations are being affected, with the US leading the way over 686,000 cases and over 35,000 deaths. That almost equals the population of Monaco and equates to more than half the population of Greenland.

The mounting fear of these numbers have clearly impacted many people directly already, but for the majority of people have protected themselves by staying inside or have simply lucked out and stayed healthy while stretching their social distancing limits, there is a different battle being fought. Chris St. Clair at The Weather Network discusses in an interview with Steve Lurie, Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) in Toronto and Martin Ricketts Jr., a retired clinical social worker in New York who has worked for the New York City Department of Health, on how mental health is playing a role in how Canadians are handling the daily challenges of quarantine and the ideas of re-opening in the future. And they are onto something here – our perception of the situation is part of what is causing stress-induced reactions.

But there is one other factor that contributes to our slow progress in fighting against COVID-19.  And it is something we hold most dear.

It is our identity.

Source: Thinkstock

We are Canadians, and that means we are known to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. Consequently, we have to welcome our differences and the challenges that comes along with it. One of those challenges is that we think differently from each other because we come from backgrounds and still carry beliefs and practices from those roots. It makes Canada a beautiful place, but it also means it can take us longer to understand each other and act as one people.

Most other countries don’t get to share in the opportunities we have to learn and grow with each other because their populations are simply not as diverse. South Korea, one of the more successful countries when pertaining to containing COVID-19 outbreaks, is “the most homogenous society in the world with 99% of residents being of Korean ethnicity” ( Citizens of nations like South Korea naturally find it easier to comply with government mandates from the sense of comradery, cultural understanding, and history that comes with being born and growing up in the same place. They act swiftly because they are largely all on the same page about what to do when dealing with coronavirus.

When Canadians look to their neighbors, we see the parts we like. We see festivals like Caribana and places like Little Portugal. But to get through this pandemic together, we have to look deeper. Remember the reasons why we do our part by staying home. Be critical about where taxpayers’ money is being prioritized (luckily, the province of Ontario recently ordered 900,000 test kits from Canadian company, Spartan Bioscience, which aims to enhance the process of identifying COVID-19 positive citizens and help to further flatten the curve).

Accept the change. If we don’t, then the curve might bend the other way.

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Written by
Paolo Pagcanlungan

Writing a bio for myself is like taking a selfie, and I don't know how to do either.

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