In the middle of a pandemic, during a month that brought us record-breaking cold, many of us paused on a sunny Sunday to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A time to reach out to the people we hold dear to remind them how grateful we are to have them in our lives. As we continue to move through this hopeful Covid-19 vaccination phase and beyond, it’s perhaps more important than ever to celebrate love and connection.
In a recent Winnipeg Free Press editorial, Pope Francis’s was quoted on remarks he made to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. He called out some concerning challenges that have emerged around the world during Covid-19. Beyond simply our health, he mentioned the jobs that have been lost, disproportionately affecting our working poor. He acknowledged a need to reconsider how our economy can be more just for everyone. He highlighted that isolation has brought along with it mental health challenges and the need for community and connection.
Pope Francis asked us to consider that “Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world”.
That said, we know that here locally, we want to do our best to make sure the stresses of the pandemic do not give rise to more selfishness than kindness. We can continue to hope that our ability to connect and be compassionate to one another will be what allows us to get through and respond to the challenges ahead.
February held some wonderful examples of this fraternity at work in our community:
On one of the coldest nights of the year, February 6th, the heat went out at an emergency overnight warming space hosted by 1JustCity. Thirty guests experiencing homelessness had arrived for the night seeking warmth, and now there was none. Within hours, the Salvation Army offered their chapel as a space for the guests overnight, Spence Neighbourhood Association and Main Street Project had transported sleepers and everyone was settled in for a safe, warm sleep.
Members of Sikh Heritage Manitoba gathered together care packages for women experiencing domestic violence. The bags, containing hygiene items and handmade Valentine’s Day cards, were delivered to Willow Place and North Point Douglas Women’s Centre. Gagan Singh, a spokesperson for the group, was quoted as saying, “Domestic violence rates have increased over the time during COVID. The demand has increased with the shelters, and the support is much needed,” he said. “Now more than ever.”
Here within our network, an employee at St.Amant posted a question on a neighbourhood Facebook group: “Would any teachers out there want to make some Valentine’s Day cards for those living with developmental disabilities and autism?” The response overwhelmed her. Not only did over a dozen teachers answer the call, but other members of the group chimed in to donate craft supplies and anything else groups might need to spread a little love.
I hope that you had a chance to spread some love this month or were on the receiving end of some kindness when you’ve needed it most. Wishing you good health, warm thoughts and everything you need to stay well as we head towards spring,