Although we don't have a crystal ball to consult and see exactly how things are going to play out in the sixth month of 2020, which frequently seems like it's been going on much longer, we can confidently predict that this June is going to be unlike any other in recent memory in Thompson.
June is normally a month spilled with special, large-scale events in the city, as well as fundraising runs and walks, but most of those will not be happening this year, though outdoor events can proceed provided there are no more than 50 participants and physical distancing is maintained.
For the first time since 1970, there won’t be a Nickel Days, or a National King Miner contest, or presumably a Lions Club parade. National Indigenous People’s Day celebrations won’t be the large-scale party in MacLean Park by City Hall that it has been for the last several years. R.D. Parker Collegiate Grade 12 students, who’ve already missed out on prom, won’t be having a traditional graduation ceremony with all their friends and family members in the audience to see them take the last step of childhood and adolescence and the first step towards adult life. Similarly, students who have completed their diplomas, certificates or degrees at University College of the North won’t have the chance to have their efforts acknowledge by striding across a stage and receiving the piece of paper that identifies them as college graduates. After June comes to an end, Canada Day July 1 won’t likely be celebrated with the all-day extravaganza of cultural performances capped off with a fireworks display that has become a Thompson tradition. Other affected events and organizations include children’s and perhaps adult sports organizations, or maybe even the opening of Thompson’s only remaining wading pool at Juniper Park.
Given everything we’re missing out on this month, it’s tempting for us to feel a little bit sorry for ourselves, but instead we should be thankful. For the past 70 years or so, Canada hasn’t had a lot of occasions when everybody had to give up things they loved and it’s come to be seen as normal. But in the two decades leading up to 1950, the country lived through the privations of the Great Depression and then the rationing necessitated by the Second World War, not to mention the thousands of soldiers who were killed overseas protecting our and other people’s freedom. To people who were alive at that time, particularly those who were around when the First World War was fought, a life without frequent and prolonged struggle would have likely been unimaginable.
Obviously, the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic and of the extreme measures that were taken in order to protect the public and the health care system have not yet been fully felt. There are going to be businesses that can’t carry on, organizations that fall apart and will require rebuilding, missed mortgage and rent payments, lost jobs and a tremendous economic effect. But those of us in Thompson, and in Northern Manitoba as a whole, can be thankful that the virus did not infect more of us, that no one in the north has died, that we were spared the sort of experiences that took place elsewhere in Canada, where so many vulnerable people, particularly senior citizens in long-term care homes, died as a result of COVID-19. If missing out on some our favourite early summer traditions is the worst consequence we suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we should consider ourselves extremely fortunate and continue to observe the precautions that have helped us to escape its effects practically unscathed.