Zoom screenshot of an ELAN board meeting circa spring, 2020. Left to right / top to bottom: Karen Cho, Guy Rodgers, Blair MacKay, Louise Campbell, Bettina Forget, Paul Bracegirdle, Tim Piper, Kakim Goh, Li Li, Swati Khanna, Deborah Forde, Roger Sinha, Deirdre Potash, and Victoria Sanchez.
Here we are in 2021, on the threshold of the post-COVID era. I always told my kids when they were little that tough times are good for building character, although the trials they were going through rarely made sense to them in the moment. It is too early to know how we are going to emerge from the traumatic effects of COVID-19, or how quickly. The natural instinct is to want things to get back to normal as quickly as possible, for this whole thing just to be over and behind us so that we can get on with our lives. It won’t be that simple. Some things have changed permanently.
Tough times build strong communities because we realize that self-reliance is a luxury that comes with the privilege of security and abundance. Tough times remind us that we need help from other people and that we are able to help others in turn. The networks of mutual support and encouragement that have emerged over the past year are valuable and we will be wise to maintain them. One of the positive side-effects of COVID isolation is increased recognition of the value of artists and their creations. While our neighbours have been locked away and deprived of human contact, they have turned to books, films, music and visual beauty for comfort and consolation. Post-COVID, we will see a new social contract with healthcare workers and educators, whose work has been under-appreciated and under-valued. I am hoping we also see the re-evaluation of artists’ work, which will have a positive impact on audience appreciation and future funding for the arts (particularly when austerity returns).
In response to COVID, ELAN‘s team shared information on support programs and helped interpret it. We also received funding to create a web series for Quebec’s seniors who were badly affected by the first wave. The first two episodes went on-line in December, to a warm response, and we will continue to produce two episodes per month until the summer. Please share the link to our YouTube channel with your parents and grandparents. The other new project we are working on is a series of documentaries about identity and belonging in Quebec’s English-speaking communities. We are creating Discussion Groups based on waves of immigration. In December, we had fascinating discussions with people whose families arrived in Quebec prior to 1945. We are currently recruiting people who arrived in Quebec since 1995. If that is you, and you want to share your story, contact me at email@example.com.