Family. Friends. Neighbours.Enjoying being outside in nice weather.  Having healthy food to eat and a cozy bed to sleep. Breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, eating healthy food.  Keeping our families safe. Giving our children a happy future.Having our health, the health of our loved ones, and neighbours’ health near and far. This is what we know we value the most. The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear what is most important.

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We can live better together

Together we can make a choice. We can choose health or illness. We can choose better lives for many people or extravagant lives for few. We can choose everyone having enough or many having little and a few rich people having lots.

“By late June we have our family starting to come out for their vacations over the summer – all of them taking in Procter & area, Sunshine Bay, hiking around Gibson Lake & the old growth forest, swimming at the beach in Kokanee Provincial Park, shopping in Nelson and the Cottonwood Market & day drives to the wider region. There is much to do when we come to our special place in Procter, BC, but, we have agreed to maintain our distance & honour the dear neighbours we have and miss so much. Yes we miss the annual trip, but the higher and greater good is the choice to remain until it’s safer to join you and the year round residents of the Kootenays.”
–Colin, Calgary

Animals, plants, rivers, the air do not stop at borders. From your neighbourhood to the neighbourhoods on the other side of the world, we need to find ways to live together even better than normal. COVID has proven that we can make choices for the greater good to keep each other safe and healthy.

Recovering from the coronavirus needs all governments to invest in living better together

My health & well-being and the health & well-being of other people come before anything else

We need clean air, water, food and land so it can support us to be healthy. People are part of the planet, and we need to take care of each other, the air, water, land, plants and animals so we can continue to live well. 

Alberta closed 20 provincial parks, removed protection from 164 others, and put rare grasslands up for sale for agricultural use. Cutting protections to make sure our air, water and land stay clean can’t come second if we want people to also be healthy.

As Canadians, we look out for each other, and are proud of our universal health care. This has played a major role in Canada’s ability to fight COVID. And there is room to do better. In BC, our healthcare system is still recovering from years of privatization and cutbacks that put our health at risk.

The pandemic also showed how vulnerable our grandparents, parents and friends are in long-term care homes, where more than 80% of Canadian COVID deaths have occurred. For-profit corporations have cut costs and mismanaged these care facilities, putting lives at risk.

We have an opportunity to build our healthcare system to be better for all. Everyone needs access to sick days and health services so we can all have the chance to recover from illness and not let the poorest people suffer while the rich buy health.

I work in an essential service, and I am surprised daily by the amount of people who are out and about acting like nothing has changed.

I’m frustrated by the number of people who think this is all some elaborate hoax (that the leaders of countries around the globe would run their economies into the ground because…why?), or who think that my biggest concern is THEIR health, and that’s why I advise them to stay home. Nope. I don’t want to bring this home to my children. I don’t want to run the risk of them getting sick and ending up seriously unwell, or worse… 

I am currently single parenting my two younger children, as my husband is a first responder for a different community, and my oldest lives on the coast. Neither can travel, but how I would like to lay my hands on them and know they’re okay. The rest of my family is in England, my parents and one of my siblings are considered to be “at risk”, which is a constant worry.

–Zoe, Castlegar

Step 1: Sign the petition

We must do better in how we look after our elders and ensure that quality long term care is guaranteed for all. We need to make sure clean air, water and food are available to everyone.

Last October, my two year old was hospitalized from an asthma attack brought on by a cold. It was terrifying seeing my child struggle to breathe. Not only do I worry how my child might struggle with coronavirus, but I worry about how they will breathe during yet another summer with thick smoke-filled air from forest fires. We all need clean air to do the most basic thing… breathe.

–Steve, Slocan Valley

We’re all better off when everyone is safe, fed, and healthy

Everyone goes through a hard time. People without enough money to eat, safe housing for them and their families, or the medicine and what they need to stay healthy, suffer the most when times get hard.

The response to COVID showed that Canada has the resources to ensure that everyone has enough money to meet their basic needs. No mother should have to worry about how to feed her children or if her children will be safe while they are at work. The $2,000 monthly worker benefit given to people who need it provided critical relief. We can afford to do that. Let’s make supporting all people to meet their basic needs the new normal. 

Everyone deserves to feel safe, have enough healthy food to eat, drink clean water, and breathe clean air. We need supports that lift up the most vulnerable people in our communities.

There have been stories of communities rallying together to help each other out, even those that did not have much to give. 

We may all be in this storm together, but we are certainly not in the same boat, and many of the world’s wealthiest have taken off in luxury yachts or to posh second homes as a way to avoid the worst of the crisis. They were looking out for themselves only, leaving middle class and low income families and workers to keep working and serve them. Their movements also risk infecting rural communities that don’t have the capacity to deal with an outbreak.

Staying close to home builds community, creates less pollution, and invests in your neighbours. A few can have luxury or many can have enough.

If I broke my leg, I would be laid up, no weight bearing, etc. for 6 to 8 weeks. Well, all I have to do now is stay home. No pain, and I can still boogie around the house, yard, and take a walk in the neighbourhood. Lucky me! I used my travel savings and bought an ebike instead.

–Marilyn, Nelson

Workers and their families come before corporations

COVID has turned out to be quite the windfall for the world’s billionaires, and with online sales surging, it has produced the world’s first trillionaire.

Big corporations keep their money offshore in fancy banks and avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The Panama Papers scandal in 2016 and follow up investigations showed this to be true. When COVID bailouts were on the table, big polluting corporations were the first in line for taxpayer handouts.

Corporate CEOs and their pals don’t need any more of your taxpayer dollars.

Big corporations don’t need taxpayer money. Give help directly to the workers and their families; they need to be kept whole and have enough to get by. 

Workers in jobs that cause lots of waste and carbon pollution, and workers living in work camps where they can’t socially distance and have safe working conditions need help to transition into jobs that are safe and close to home and their families. The need to be kept healthy. We need to re-train workers to have jobs that are part of the clean energy transition and don’t cause more waste and pollution.

Strong communities can bounce back in the face of crisis

Extreme weather events like wildfires, flooding and landslides are emergencies just like COVID. This pandemic has made the cracks in our communities and systems obvious. We need to support and help each other. These same supports that are getting us through COVID will help us get through the next big wildfire that comes too close to your town or the next time your drinking water is at risk of being polluted.

We need to move away from boom and bust industries and jobs that tear families apart. We need to build our community roots and build our communities to be strong to last for generations of kids.

Give communities the tools and resources to be healthy and safe: safe walking & biking paths, parks to gather outside safely, warm homes and businesses to live, work and play in, buildings that don’t cost a fortune to heat and cool, gardens to grow fresh food, places to make clean, 100% renewable energy that doesn’t make waste and pollution, and safe and affordable daycare for kids to grow when parents are working. And we need jobs for local residents right at home that help build all these community roots.

I’m finding comfort in knowing we’re all in this together. I appreciate the small acts of kindness, the hearts in the windows, and people cheering for their health care workers. I enjoy having my kids around, and organising their school work in a way that means we snuggle on the couch and watch movies together, and laugh, and dance, and joke, and don’t have anywhere else to be on my days off. 

I can’t wait for this to be over, but I hope we never go back. I hope we all see the potential harms of globalization and start to support small businesses in our local communities. I hope we learn how to grow and store our own food, and make do with what we have, instead of always itching to buy the next big, unnecessary thing. I hope we know how that we absolutely can tackle climate change, and that we can survive without that holiday, or truck, or new shirt. I hope we value changing the way we eat to be more healthy and respect all living creatures. I hope we realise that we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves, not just during a pandemic, but always.

–Zoe, Castlegar

Communities support other communities

We can be stronger as a community of communities, we can’t just build a wall around our little town or neighbourhood. What happens on the other side of the world has impacted each of us. We need to help our communities come together and be a global community to survive the next crisis.

The simple act of collectively banging pots and pans each night gave us a cathartic moment of solidarity each day and created a common link between communities around the world and between neighbours who maybe didn’t know each other before. Maybe that family that looks so different and lives down the street isn’t so different after all?

Indigenous People, Black people and People of Colour matter

Over 150 years ago, smallpox killed 90% of Indigenous people in BC. One notorious incident, which involved an infected gold miner travelling from San Francisco to Victoria on a steamship, resulted in 30,000 Indigenous people dying within a year. This was about 60 percent of BC’s population at the time. Infected people were allowed to (and some forced to) travel back to their home communities, spreading the disease. Some historians say that the government’s disastrous response was intentional, to weaken resistance to further colonization, and that this constitutes an act of genocide. 

It’s no surprise that BC’s First Nations have taken COVID very seriously from the start, and 82 of the province’s 204 First Nations have asked outsiders not to travel to their communities. Like, the Heiltsuk community in Bella Bella, who put in their own lock down in early April, including a travel ban to and from the community and strict stay-at-home orders.

The smallpox pandemic, combined with the impact of residential schools and other measures designed to wipe out Indigenous culture have devastated Indigenous people. As we consider how we want to direct our efforts in recovering from the current pandemic, we have a chance to do better. While it might not be possible to “right past wrongs,” the very least we can do is to listen to Indigenous people and understand what their needs are. There are also the 94 Calls to Action that came out of the non-partisan Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, with concrete things that we can all do. 

How Indigenous people have been treated has not been fair. Again COVID is hitting their communities harder. Indigenous communities matter, too. Their communities have specific needs, things that connect them to the land in a way that’s hard to understand if you don’t live in one of their communities.

We need to listen to what Indigenous people need for their land and communities and help them get that.

And, yes, racism is still alive in Canada. 

Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour need to be lifted up and have their basic needs met. They need to be safe. We can’t leave them behind while we recover from COVID.