Editor’s Letter

Kitchissippi kindness in a time of need

By Maureen McEwan

This was an unexpected first month on the job.

When I started on March 2nd, there wasn’t a great toilet paper shortage, “social distancing” wasn’t in our vocabularies, baby boomers and millennials weren’t debating about the War Measures Act, and we weren’t following Dr. Teresa Tam’s every move on Twitter.

In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our day-to-day lives significantly. As I write this, many of us are working on surviving week three or four of isolation.

This is a complex and uncertain time. With the virus spreading in Canada, citizens are concerned about their own health and the health of their loved ones. For vulnerable populations — medically, financially, socially or otherwise — COVID-19 may be particularly frightening.

The Canadian economy is facing unprecedented challenges and all levels of government are working overtime to manage the crisis.

Anxiety about the future, and now fatigue from that anxiety, can be consuming. As someone who spends their day plugged into pandemic news, let me offer three small pieces of advice (and try to follow them myself): Stay safe, stay informed and stay positive.

First, and foremost, stay safe and stay healthy. The virus has spread to all Canadian provinces and territories except Nunavut and it is vital that we flatten the curve.

To help fight COVID-19, stay home as much as possible. Practice physical distancing — try to maintain at least two metres away from others.

It is important to stay informed on COVID-19 as the situation develops in Canada. For up-to-date news, check reliable sources like your local or regional health authority, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has been working hard to provide information to city residents. If you are looking for local information on the virus, visit their website and social media channels. Dr. Vera Etches, the Medical Officer of Health for OPH, is another source I cannot recommend highly enough right now.

If you are looking for the latest political news, tune into the prime minister’s daily COVID-19 briefing. Trudeau usually speaks at 11:15 a.m. and provides Canadians with updates on the virus and measures to fight it. Premiers and municipal and community-level leaders have been giving press conferences regularly as well.

Finally, remember to stay positive. The news is grave right now but Canada will come through the pandemic. When you can, take breaks in your day and do something restorative. Practice good self-care in self-isolation. Go for a long walk, do a difficult puzzle, read a great book or reconnect with an old friend.

In this month’s paper, our stories largely cover how Kitchissippi was impacted by the pandemic and how the community is responding.

The community news section covered a lot of local business updates this month. You’ll find two stories on how the non-profit community is managing the COVID-19 demands and how the business community has been impacted by mandated closures and operating restrictions.

We also said goodbye to Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in the last weeks. The beloved toy store has decided to close after 43 years of business in Ottawa and KT checked in with the Anisman family. We heard about virtual karaoke and the Third’s efforts to engage customers despite the social distance. And we celebrated the one-year anniversary of The Yard, Ottawa’s only indoor skatepark.

In Early Days, we apply a historic lens to the COVID-19 crisis and review how Ottawa fought the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. For Humans of Kitchissippi, we caught up with local resident, and business owner, Summer Baird and what’s happening at Hintonburg Public House.

Our columnists all addressed the pandemic — how the different levels of government and local institutions are adapting and discussed new measures and important upcoming events.

We had a long-time Westboro resident submit a letter to the editor on curing the COVID-19 blues. The simple answer? Embrace the wonder of spring.

We’re still running our Biz Roundup and Community Calendar, but they’ve both been adjusted to reflect the current circumstances.

And we’ve got our special Homes and Condos section with stories on building an indoor garden, advice for first-time buyers and basement renovation tips.

Enjoy this month’s KT and thanks for reading.

On a last note: For three years, I lived on Ward 15’s eastern border. At the time, there was no better place to go for a great cup of coffee and walk than the winding route of Wellington Street West through to Richmond Road. I think it’s easy to like this community when things are good but, I’ve got to tell you, it’s easy to love it when times are tough.

In the last weeks, the kindness and generosity of Kitchissippi’s residents has been astounding.

I’m honoured to take on the role of editor and to be a part of the KT team and community. There are big shoes to fill — I’ve taken this position over from former editors who cared deeply and maintained the paper’s role as a “knowledgeable neighbour.” I have said this before, but I view journalism fundamentally as a public service. We’ll work to be there for you, Kitchissippi.

Take care,

M. McEwan

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