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Archive for May 15th, 2020

When the impact of a pandemic began to touch our lives, in British Columbia, when restrictions began to be put into place, when we all became home bound the message began …

be calm, be kind, be safe

That has been the consistent message from the PHO (Public Health Officer), Dr. Bonnie Henry, in her (almost) daily press conferences, where she updates the province on the the spread and treatment of Covid 19. But the numbers aren’t all that she has communicated.

She has also shared, what comes across as most genuine sorrow for the loved ones of those who have died.

When an outbreak in the community has occurred (at a seniors care home, a prison, a packaging plant, etc.) she presents that information with clarity, sensitivity and a lack of panic. When PPE (personal protective equipment) was needed, she would share what was being done. When reporters seemed to ask questions to initiate scandal, she, gently, confidently pointed out what was known, rather that what was suspected.

Each day there has been a message of the facts …

… reminds me of a song from the Anne of Green Gables musical, in which Anne is telling of what she imagines her upbringing might have been, in a most fanciful way. The women around her, Mrs Spencer, Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs Blewett, sing out their response of “the facts, the facts, the facts … the plain, simple, homely, unembroidered facts” to her.

Which brings me to the other part of Dr. Bonnie’s press conferences that (personally) blesses my east coaster heart. She grew up in Prince Edward Island and each day I hear her island of origin in her breathy speech, the way she sometimes says about (aboat), the elongation of her vowels.

Mostly, though, what I hear is the style of leadership that we rarely get treated to and which exudes through her every word. She is a quiet, confident, shamelessly unshaming, facts-first, sensitive, human leader. She has created confidence in the people of this province, at a time when fear, speculation and panic could have taken over.

When I have heard the health authorities of other provinces and countries speak, I have realized what a gem of a leader we have here. She has not encouraged us to keep an eye on our neighbors for wrongdoing, but for care, kindness. She has not focused on the minority who break the rules, but reminded us that we do not always know the whole story, that the majority of people are following the rules. She has reminded us that it is we who bend the curve, not the heavy hand of rules and laws.

She has empowered us in this fight against Covid 19.

When our lives begin to slowly open to our ‘new’ normal, I pray a cure, a vaccine is found. But I also pray that Dr. Bonnie’s style of leadership becomes a new norm as well.

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

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