Today in Cowichan, I feel there’s much to celebrate

None of us will ever forget this spring and what it revealed about our community.

I can’t recall a more beautiful spring. Blossoms seemed to last longer than usual, a symphony of songbirds awaited every time I stepped outside, and the Cowichan Valley seemed to get lusher by the hour as the days lengthened. At times, it was almost too beautiful. 

In the context of COVID-19, life feels more precarious and precious than ever. 

I moved to Cowichan from California 13 years ago and I’ve never been so glad that I did. A pandemic reveals a lot about a community’s problems as well as its resources and resourcefulness. And I’ve been impressed by how, in many ways, COVID-19 has brought out the best in people.

In reflecting on the events of the past few months, it’s clear that there’s still so much work to be done — in terms of justice, in terms of equality, in terms of supporting people in our community who need it. There are important reasons why not everyone celebrates Canada Day as a national holiday. At the same time, there are many reasons to be grateful for where we live, what we’ve just gone through and where we’re headed. 

And so, this July 1, I’m sharing a few favourite photos, stories and reflections from The Discourse Cowichan’s spring season. 

Cowichan Bay
Photo by Rhonda Elliott

For many people, there has been a lot less time commuting in cars and more time communing with nature. The right amount of rain this spring and a pandemic-imposed reduction in air pollution have conspired to keep the skies clear for views of striking sunrises (above) and spectacular sunsets (below).

cowichan this week photo of the week
Photo by Patti Hamaluk
Covid 19 everything is cancelled Cowichan this week
Photo by Genevieve Singleton

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It’s also the little things. Time seems to move differently in a pandemic, which makes it possible to notice and appreciate things previously overlooked. Like the hawthorn tree I had never noticed on the walk to the mailbox or how much bunnies like to eat the dandelions in our yard. I have also learned about eating the shoots of salmonberries and my 16-year-old son has never been so keen to harvest stinging nettles (below).

Photo by Jared Qwustenuxun Williams
Photo by Ryan Tidman

Local wildlife presumably haven’t minded the slowdown in human activity. I feel increased empathy for how many wild creatures are constantly on alert for potential danger. 

The cycles of nature, including the annual emergence of juvenile salmon and spring mushrooms, are reassuring in a time of so much change.

Photo by Tim Kulchyski
Emergency department staff Cowichan District hospital
Photo by Janayh Wright

A pandemic can take off our blinders. COVID-19 is revealing who and what are essential, and what we can live without. The dedication of health care workers and others playing essential roles has been inspiring in this ongoing state of emergency. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.

Outreach workers at the temporary tenting site.
Photo by David Minkow

A pandemic exposes who and what are the most vulnerable and points to obvious solutions. The collaboration by local governments and organizations to provide shelter, in the form of hotel rooms and tenting sites, for those without a place to isolate is doing a world of good.

It also highlights the heartfelt work that many individuals, such as Jean Flynn and Donna Dunnigan of the Canadian Mental Health Association (above) and Debbie Berg of Cowichan Women Against Violence (below), were doing before the pandemic, and stepped up in a time of need.

Photo by David Minkow
Photo submitted by Erica Roberts

Cowichan Valley Teachers’ Union president Erica Roberts (above) shared how local educators adapted their teachings this spring, amidst challenging conditions. Schools have supported students and families hit hard by COVID-19.

Photo by Kalen Pidcock

Local business owners have demonstrated their resiliency and resourcefulness by adapting services or pivoting to new ventures. Kudos also to customer service workers for displaying great patience and perseverance.

BLM Black Lives Matter protest rally march in Duncan.
Photo by Jacqueline Ronson

It is a hopeful sign that so many in our community are insisting that Black lives and Indigenous lives matter very much.

Casey Peter and Elizabeth Louie hold posters of their missing son Desmond Peter at a demonstration in Duncan on May 9, 2020. Jacqueline Ronson/The Discourse Cowichan
Photo by Jacqueline Ronson
Photo by Jared Qwustenuxun Williams

It’s also heartening how much interest there has been this spring in the work of Jared Qwustenuxun Williams to share local First Nations history and build bridges in our community.

Photo by Jared Qwustenuxun WIlliams
Photo by Theresa Shand

None of us will ever forget these past few months. They’ve been incredibly trying in many ways, and for some much more than others. At the same time, it has been an opportunity for our community to shine.

Photo by David Chang Photography

Overall, our community has done a good job of following provincial health guidelines to keep each other safe. May it continue to be so this summer and in all the seasons that follow. [end]

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