This past week has been one of the busiest and event-filled times for Cochranites since COVID-19 first arrived in the province.
The weekend saw celebrations of Bow Valley High School graduates, Philippine Independence Day, car shows, dance recitals and more events bring our community together.
These gatherings were made possible because COVID-19 public health measures are quickly being eased in Alberta as active cases of the virus plummet and vaccination numbers increase.
On Thursday (June 10) the province moved into Stage 2 of the Open for Summer Plan. Under Stage 2 outdoor social gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed, indoor recreation and entertainment venues can open, outdoor concerts with up to 150 people can take place and even more is possible.
The province will likely see further health measure easements in the coming weeks when Alberta moves to Stage 3 of reopening. Stage 3 includes the lifting of all restrictions, including the ban on indoor social gatherings.
These are exciting times.
However, while it is inspiring to see health measures potentially drawing to a close it is important to remember that community members have different levels of comfort when it comes to their safety.
Finding our safety thresholds as we enter a new era it will be a different and individual experience for everyone.
Some community members may shy away from big events and continue to wear masks, while others are chomping at the bit to get out and adjust to a life outside public health restrictions.
While these reactions are different, they showcase how individual the experience of living through COVID-19 has been for community members.
Kindness, compassion and respect paired with an understating that everyone will experience reopening differently will be essential as we adjust.
It has been a really, really tough year and we have all experienced trauma from the social, economic and health losses we have faced.
There is no black and white guide on how to correctly move forward from the pandemic and it may take some time for people to feel safe sliding back into a fully open province and world.
Regardless of how we feel about COVID-19, there is a drive to connect with each other as the world reopens, this is where our focus should lie.
Going forward one of our chief goals should be working together to unite, instead of feeding into the divisiveness that has been growing over the past 14 months.
We can all play a role in shaping a positive future for our town, province and country.
Mayor Jeff Genung put it best, “This is not a time to continue to divide our community. It’s a time to unite and come together, link arms and rise up— Whether you agree with what happened, whether it was true or false or whatever, it’s upon each of us now to look forward and build a future for our community.”