Many lessons to be learned from 2020


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/12/2020 (894 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At the beginning of this year, December 2020 was shaping up to be a big celebratory month.

I’m turning 40 and celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary this month. I had planned to celebrate these milestones with a family trip but now, like everyone else in the country, our original plans have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This holiday season I am very grateful — I feel lucky to have a close multigenerational family, a handful of close friends that I am able to text, Zoom and have phone calls with.

I am also incredibly honoured to be serving in my civic duty during this difficult time. Working to create better opportunities for all to have safe spaces and support systems to live well in Winnipeg has never been more important to me.

The data show us that people who live in poverty are disproportionately susceptible to COVID-19. The most impoverished population in Winnipeg resides in downtown and Point Douglas, where existing food deserts and housing insecurities have been magnified for all to see with the rise in COVID-19 infections. Quite simply, it is impossible to self-isolate if you don’t have a home. You cannot shop online for essentials if you don’t have a credit or debit card.

I want to again thank our community support groups who continue to do heavy lifting, and are working tirelessly to meet the needs of the less fortunate people in our community during the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we rely on our grassroots and community partners to provide basic support.

This holiday season, how do we strengthen our community during this incredibly difficult time?

If you are able to, there are many ways to contribute. Please consider volunteering or donating (food, clothing, money) to our grassroots and community partners who are working incredibly hard this winter to meet the human basic needs in our city. Reach out to your elders and those living alone in your community. We know that the social isolation of COVID-19 impacts our mental health. A phone call to check in or a holiday greeting card could mean the world to someone living home alone. If you’re able, make or drop off a meal to someone living alone.

For those who do have homes, not everyone has a safe home to “stay at home” in. The cycle of abuse, whether physical, mental or sexual continues throughout a pandemic. We need to have all eyes and ears to speak up and support those around who struggle silently.

If you know someone who is currently being affected by abuse or is living alone and needs help, please encourage them to call 211 to connect them to the appropriate supports and services available to them.

As we enter the realities of a long and cold Winnipeg winter, we need to work together to create opportunities to reconnect in new ways that are safe and equitable for all Winnipeggers. Not everyone has a backyard ice rink, a personal outdoor space to breathe fresh air, or a vehicle to drive to nature. It is imperative for our mental and physical health, especially during a pandemic, that we provide open spaces to access nature and to move our bodies.

Active Transportation trails along Keewatin Street and Inkster Boulevard continue to be great safe spaces to walk, run and winter bike. It is a priority to keep all our paths clear this winter for residents to have safe spaces to move. I’ve been delighted to see people using walking trails in George Heshka Park and Tyndall Park, the Burton Cummings fitness trail and Roger le Grand fitness trail. If you have not been there, I encourage you to visit and take photos of our beautiful Point Douglas trails. I would love to see them on social media — please tag me!

Our love and sincere appreciation for our local businesses and artists has never been stronger. We proudly made choices to support local throughout this pandemic, and our local business community felt it. And just to be clear, all items and businesses are essential, no matter what income level you are. My 40th birthday #lovelocal40squats social media challenge brought people together online through exercise and provided an opportunity for people to share a local business they love and proudly support.

As we move forward into 2021, I am inspired by you — humans are resilient. I will continue to listen to your needs and work diligently to serve in the best interests for you, all residents and small business owners.

There is much more work to do to make 2021 brighter and better for all. This pandemic has highlighted the social and health inequalities in our systems that have plagued us for generations. It is imperative that I continue to work toward better conversations, improving systems and developing government policies for all to be safe and healthy. I am hopeful that this year’s sacrifice will allow us all to celebrate together next year. 

Please stay home, stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all have a happy holiday. I am optimistic for 2021 as it is my goal that we don’t return to normal, but we return to better.

Vivian Santos

Vivian Santos
Point Douglas ward report

Vivian Santos is city councillor for Point Douglas.

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