Dear Friends in Christ,
Dr. Carl Le Roux is a Vancouver-based medical doctor who served a five-week locum in Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat was put under lockdown on December 2 when it was determined that there was a community spread of COVID-19. Some 200 of 3,000 residents tested positive for the virus. Dr. Le Roux decided that he would stay in Arviat until the crisis was ended. He suspended his plan to return home for the holidays and remained beyond his usual rotation by a month and a half. According to Jessie Kaludjak, a resident in the Arviat, his personal decision to stay gave hope and courage to the community to get through the crisis. On Tuesday, the territory began lifting public health measures in Arviat after no new cases had been reported over the previous two weeks.
In appreciation of Dr. Le Roux’s personal sacrifice, presence and care, Jessie Kaludjak organized a drive-by last Friday before he boarded a plane for home. Over 30 vehicles took part in the parade to the airport, honking their horns in gratitude. Moved to tears, Dr. Le Roux stood outside and waved to each and every person who passed by.
Gratitude. With the turn of a page of the calendar, we step into a new year. 2021 is beginning with glowing embers of hope that comes with the arrival of a vaccine. And yet, the number of COVID-19 infections in this second wave are rising at an alarming rate, so alarming that we are now collectively under a “stay at home” order for the next 30 days. Each and every day, we hear the statistics that Intensive Care Units across the province are filling to beyond capacity. Just yesterday, I was on a call with an elderly parishioner who is in the hospital waiting to be moved into ICU because of the disease. While our conversation was brief, it was bathed in prayer and encouragement.
Behind each statistic is a person, a loved one, a family member, a friend, a pew mate, a neighbour. And caring for each of them are doctors, nurses, chaplains, health care workers and frontline workers who are also our friends, family members, loved ones, pew mates and neighbours. Every day, in spite of fatigue, they place themselves at risk to offer us hope, care and encouragement to get through this crisis.
Gratitude. Today, I encourage you to find a way to express gratitude to the frontline workers that you know. Send an email, make a phone call, write a letter of thanks to those who serve in health care, homeless shelters, clinics, research labs, grocery stores, transit companies, vaccination centers… A word of gratitude is like a tonic or the breath that blows upon the embers to give light and hope.
Folks, stay at home.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto