Thanksgiving arriving next Monday may not be the best timing for Thompson when it comes to finding things to be thankful for.
On top of all the general stress that 2020 has brought into everyone’s lives on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thompson had its first confirmed case of the virus since early April on Oct. 5, taking the novel coronavirus from an abstract worry to a concrete presence in or around the city. On top of that, Vale is laying the groundwork to begin reducing the number of employees at its Manitoba Operations, with close to half of the hourly workers represented by United Steelworkers Local 6166 receiving choice cards last week to pick where they’d like to move in their department or other departments if their positions within the company are eliminated. The deadline to pay property tax just passed a few days ago too. South of the border, it’s finally down to the home stretch to see whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States, and there’s justifiable concern about what will happen if there isn’t a clear-cut victory on election night. Many of us can be forgiven if gratitude isn’t the predominant feeling in our lives right now.
Still, despite all the bad or worrying things currently going on locally and around the world, there must be something to be thankful for, right?
Well, for one thing, there’s a local byelection for council and school board Oct. 13, the day after Thanksgiving. While that isn’t something to feel thankful about in itself, especially considering that the vacancy on council resulted from a former councillor’s death, Thompson residents can be grateful that there are a total of seven candidates vying for those positions, five of them seeking to join council. At a time when public participation in elections is going down, despite everything that can be at stake in some of them, it’s good that voters have a choice from a wide range of candidates, all of whom are not afraid to put their money where their mouth is and are concerned enough about the future of their community that they are willing to contribute their time to trying to make it better.
And although the one active case of the coronavirus currently afflicting a Thompson resident is worrisome, we should be thankful that there have only been three cases in the area and 18 cases overall in Northern Manitoba since the first positive test for COVID-19 in Manitoba back in the middle of March. While school is much different than it has been in the past, it is in session and Thompson schools have so far been spared the effects of having positive cases that have occurred in some Winnipeg schools within a few weeks of the first day of classes. Given the interconnectedness of so many northern communities to Thompson, and of all of us to Winnipeg, the fact that no northern community has yet reached double digits in terms of COVID-19 cases is deserving of our gratitude.
So this weekend, when you sit down for a turkey dinner or whatever it is you do to celebrate Thanksgiving, hopefully with only members of your immediate family to reduce the risk of anyone passing on COVID-19 or any other kind of virus at a time when our health care system will soon be dealing with flu season as well, try to remember that, even in trying times like these, there are reasons to feel thankful, however meagre they sometimes seem.