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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

One day looks like the next

BY Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash Feb 26, 2021

Flying back from a trip a year ago, we disembarked at the same time as passengers from a plane coming from Beijing. The crew and all passengers were wearing masks. I remember telling my friend how dystopian it looked, and we cracked some jokes about it.

At that time, the world knew very little about Covid-19. The country I visited had perhaps one reported case. I thought it would be like Ebola and that the outbreaks abroad would be contained quickly. The second scenario I had envisioned was similar to what happened during H1N1. I was in high school when it happened, but we were still allowed to go to class, and life remained relatively normal. They had set up a massive vaccination clinic in a mall, my school took us there to get our vaccine, and that was it.

The first few months of staying home last year were great. We had Tiger King, cute social media content about solidarity and everyone was baking bread. I was holding on to the thought that the vaccine would end the crisis quickly, just like with H1N1. But no. A year later, I’m still at home away from family members and wondering when this is all going to be under control. I sit at home watching the same stuff that allowed this pandemic to happen and I can’t do anything about it.

The most insulting part when you’re working in the healthcare system during a pandemic is seeing people constantly testing the limits of the system. Not too long ago, Air Canada paid influencers to travel to countries where the healthcare system is already saturated to show that it’s “safe”. 

Then, when the Cree Board of Health and Social Services launched its vaccination campaign, many were saying that the vaccine just protects you and not your whole community. While it is true that the vaccine mostly prevents you from developing a severe form of Covid-19, the more people we vaccinate the fewer will end up in the care of the CBHSSJB. That means employees don’t have to work 12 hours a day and seven days a week. The massive outbreak we had in Eeyou Istchee pushed me to the edge of a burnout. Some countries will wait months if not weeks to get vaccines and here we are not meeting our vaccination rate goals.

I have been working unsustainably and this pandemic greatly affected my medical follow-ups. I work from home; health authorities constantly tell me to stay at home and I’m supposed to relax in the same house I’m working myself to the bone. 

The only thing I can do right now is to practice self-compassion. You should too. We’re all struggling right now. The whole world is struggling. It’s normal to feel this way. But hang in there. I’m right there with you.

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Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash is Cree from Waswanipi, and is the Nation’s newest columnist. She is an activist and writer who also has a regular column in Montreal’s French Metro Newspaper.