Monday, March 23, 2020

Hunkered Down - From here to the NWT

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Here in Pennsylvania I watch with trepidation the progress of COVID19 across the world. I'm isolating, as most folks in the 60 and up age group have been advised to do.  I've already spent plenty of time in my local hospital, and have no great yen to return--under any circumstances.

My Grandma Liddle, (who lived to 99) told me her story many years ago about having survived the 1918 Influenza. She was just 18 when it came, and living in a boarding school in New York City when she gazed out a window and saw the bodies being removed from neighboring buildings by men wearing masks. I believe that not long before, she'd also seen the troops returning from World War I coming home, a rejoicing with bands and parades, that was nothing less than ill-advised with this influenza already raging in Europe. How she survived exposure, I don't know, but she did, and her many descendants, happy to be here, are grateful that she did.

At least we are not as badly informed as the folks who endured the historical plagues. We have some idea of how the disease works, of how it spreads, and even, thanks to electron microscopes, what the beast looks like. I don't know if that's any comfort if you contract this evil bug, but I'd rather have an idea of what the danger was and also get some genuine advice on how to avoid it. Imagine living in times past when people believed that diseases like malaria and dengue fever came from "bad air!" As scary as things are now, it must have been infinitely worse in times past when sickness came for apparently no fathomable reason.

I read tonight that Dr. Kami Kandola who is Chief Public Health office for the Northwest Territories has instituted a ban for non-essential travel. This is because of the dangers of this kind of highly communicable disease presents to First Nation's and other isolated, small communities, where crowding and close quarters living situations prevail.  Just one sick individual in a small outpost could infect--or, worst case, wipe out--an entire extended family group. 

Often, too, the only medical personnel may be a nurse, one that, no matter how highly-skilled, could not save a  seriously ill Coronavirus patient without access to the kind of high tech equipment that is needed to save the life.  Several reservations in Ontario have closed their borders with the outside world, because crowded housing is more the rule than the exception and a communicable disease such as this would spread like wildfire.  

I will end with this lovely video. I've read that young women from many 1st Nations have begun this spiritual work, performing a dance which is prayer for healing called The Jingle Dance. Each step upon the earth draws up energy from our Mother.

I watched and said a little prayer...

~~Juliet Waldron

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