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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

School’s back

BY Sonny Orr Jul 31, 2020

My granddaughter jumps up with joy: “Yay! We’re going back to school!”

The excitement was inspired by a short little comment from an iffy source, but it sure lit up her life. I almost forgot the days it took to get her to go to school on time. Or how the need to learn is such an important part of her young life, something that we as parents, grandparents or guardians need to always keep as a priority. 

To be part of anyone’s life is important and much needed for society in general, because society isn’t made of individuals. It’s made of individuals with a lot in common with each other. That’s why the black sheep, the crazy cousin, the funny auntie, the forgotten sibling – you know who I mean, the ones who don’t fit – are more memorable than the wallpaper people. And really, does everyone have to fit in a norm?

Not according to many kids who always point out the differences but naturally accept them. Later on in life, we tend to learn from others the differences in each other and the collective agreement in those differences, separating people into groups of interests. Eventually the numbers show that that’s what they want and it’s justifiably so because numbers talk. I don’t think so. 

I think that if collective thought is acted upon and, let’s say, a large crowd or demonstration is dictating the situation, then the lynch mobs, the witch hunts and Dracula slayers eliminate the ones who don’t fit. Stability returns to acceptable levels. Ahhh, society and its many levels, I could go on and on about this, but today, it’s not people in charge. It’s a tiny little virus that is now in control.

My granddaughter’s innocence now comprehends that the need to stay safe is now institutionalized and that they will be survivors of something that will be right up there with measles, chicken pox, mumps and all the other childhood diseases. They understand that this will be our way life for some time, until someone figures out a way to fix it and heal our psyche.

Other than that, I just celebrated another year of living, so that’s a plus. The area is certainly Covid-free for now, though I would recommend testing everyone just to be safe. I know that it’s a matter of economics too, so let the experts do their thing and await positive news. Other than that, school is back on and some semblance of reconnecting to what was always taken for granted can be savoured in this abnormal life. Hopefully we stay strong with our commitment to battle this enemy we cannot defeat without working together. (And in isolation, pun intended).

On a positive note, I haven’t heard of too many people catching colds or other symptoms, so all this washing and stuff seems to help fight other common ailments. The common cold has no cure, and everyone is susceptible. I guess we should have washed our hands more often in the past and saved a lot more lives…

But hey! It’s not only me saying this. Listen to the medical experts and to the leaders who listen to the medical experts. Wash up, wear masks, read lips, express yourself without saying anything. I’m signing off from behind my mask, where I look like everyone else awaiting surgery. I wish I had a happy face mask, I mumble in my muffled voice.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.