By Neebing Coun. Cody Fraser
For the first time in our collective memory we as a society have been forced to mobilize for a common goal.
Not since World War Two have all sectors of society been mobilized. In these unprecedented and uncertain times, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide the public with some of my thoughts.
These thoughts are not the position of the City of Thunder Bay and I do not speak for city council as a whole. My thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.
I realize I’m not the only rookie community leader cutting their teeth in politics during this unprecedented time; MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell, MP Marcus Powlowski, and my counterparts on City Council, Albert Aiello, Peng You, Brian Hamilton, and Kristen Oliver are also getting their feet wet. But let’s face it, I’m as green as it gets.
I was elected in 2018 as a third-year law student, 26 years old, bright eyed and bushy-tailed, I was ready to change the world.
Little did I know, a year and a half into my first term the world would change, just not the way I had envisioned.
As councillors, our job has become less about potholes, ditches, and building a city and more about relaying messaging, providing financial relief packages, ensuring essential services stay intact, and assuring residents that things will be OK.
The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone to a different degree.
On a personal note, I was recently called to the Bar. On Jan. 1, I officially became a lawyer in Ontario.
As a first-generation university student, this was a big moment for my family and me.
I began work, eagerly meeting with realtors and reaching out to accountants and financial institutions to get my name out there.
I was excited to go to work, accepting any and all assignments from partners with a smile. The firm even put my picture in the paper. Little did I know, shortly thereafter, the world had other plans.
Like so many others in our city, I too was laid off. You need-not shed a tear. I am not seeking sympathy. I’ll be ready to rock and roll when things clear up. In the meantime – how can we cope?
It's very hard to contemplate anything other than our own perception of the world. While not all of us have the same standard of living, let’s face it, a lot of us live a comfortable life. Even those who struggle to make ends meet have a good standard of living.
It’s hard to imagine a world that doesn’t afford us the ability to visit a friend, grab a beer at a bar, or attend your beer league hockey games (sigh). It’s difficult to imagine, but it’s here, this is our new reality for the time being.
For those laid off or displaced because of the pandemic, make sure to seek any and all support coming from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
It won’t be ideal (trust me), but it will be something. Make sure you communicate with your bank if you have a mortgage or loans, see what options you have.
Once the financial aspect is taken care of, taking care of your physical and mental health will be paramount. Go for a daily walk (as long as you maintain two-metre distance from other walkers), do home workouts (follow me on Instagram and laugh at my daily attempts), meditate, and call family and friends often.
Do your best to establish a semblance of routine. For now, this will be your new “normal”- embrace it.
To those who can work from home, that’s great, keep going and be thankful.
To those who work in essential business, you are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, stay safe and know that your efforts are not going unnoticed.
To the front line health workers and first responders, keep fighting the good fight, for now it’s my job to stay home so you can do yours!
For those of you who have yet to take physical distancing and this pandemic seriously I’ve got two words: smarten up.
I’m wishing you and your family good health, both physical and mental in the coming weeks. This will be hard but I’m confident we can get through this.
Last thing, now more than ever, let’s be kind to one another.
Neebing Coun. Cody Fraser was first elected to council in 2018.