“Anyone arguing that 1% or 2% of the population dying isn’t a big deal and is concerned about their freedom to get back to normal needs to identify one or two family members or close friends they are willing to offer up to death to save the economy and regain freedom. Name them! Say them aloud with the same ease you offer up and dismiss someone else’s friend or family member!”
A protestor: “Dr Bonny Henry is a Nazi”
A month and a half ago this is what people were saying online whenever they heard about, read about or saw people protesting or if they felt that the soft halted voice of the little blonde woman on TV was the voice of an oppressor.
Most wouldn’t go as far with shock messaging as those people above did but they did not hold back from expressing their extreme concern and fears of an outbreak or the results of the societal shutdown. Some did not give these protesters a platform out of genuine fear for the rest of the population.
Some Canadians were oblivious to it all, they still had their jobs nothing had changed in their lives other than more hand washing, they hadn’t gotten sick and they hadn’t lost anything financially, there was nothing to gripe about…they were “essential workers”. More than a few doctors appreciated the concerns of the population who protested, though still they expressed caution.
While this was happening, Canadians’ attention shifted as 22 people died in Nova Scotia, shot and killed. An online memorial was held for the nation. Maybe you watched, perhaps it was too hard to watch.
From cheering front line workers to mourning the tragic loss of life by way of the gun. And then there was the knee, the video, the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of what some absolutely hope will remain the most important documented evidence of racism the world will ever see. Or will it just be another Tulsa…do you know what happened in Tulsa?
What a year…for me personally it all really started in my mind with the sudden loss of Kobé Bryant. As a father of 2 daughters myself, I kept replaying in my head what I felt might’ve been those final moments he had with his daughter, how he felt, how she felt and how he would’ve given everything not to have her be in the helicopter with him.
So here we are, we’ve just crossed the midway point, with phase 2 in full effect, Black Lives Matter protesters have impacted a great deal of North America, hundreds of thousands across the continent and beyond that in many parts of the world have marched in solidarity, and close proximity with those of us humans with the darkest of skin colors.
Which brings me to why this article feels so difficult to write. Because I don’t know how many more articles, whether they are printed here in Surrey604.com or the New York Times, it will take for humans, my fellow humans, to take note of the time frame we are living in.
I mean history continues to happen in massive leaps and steps every week, Elon Musk has fired up the exploration of space all over again and by 2022 we will most likely be on Mars. Are we running away and is that what we need to do? What is Greta feeling now? Where is her voice? Little Greta…
Did I mention Kenny Rogers?
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…
Well, he also passed away March 20th, 2020. And the truth behind his lyrics might very well be the ace card we all need to keep. This brings me to the interviews of three individuals I conducted between March and May. Each interview I had hoped to write a solitary article in support of each video and audio rendering.
But as we started to post lead material on social media about each subject, it felt like the odds of someone who opposed said viewpoint would not only fail to hear the point of view of another but would go out of their way to shun even the platforms publishing views of the ones they disagreed with.
Protestors often wondered why YouTube or Facebook seemingly was going out of its way to sensor and remove postings each platform claimed were inappropriate. We couldn’t help wonder if those opposed to a view point weren’t aggressively reporting on each other fuelling the fire.
But with a relentless Black Lives Matter movement, producing huge crowds and little pockets of outbreaks being reported on at Walmart’s or at factories or with sports teams. One just has to wonder… Why were we or are we still afraid and should we continue to be? How will it be possible to really know how to defeat COVID-19 when so few have gotten it in Canada in comparison to other places throughout the world.
I met Pervez, funnily enough last summer. She had been slated to work a wedding with me as the videographer, I the photographer. The couple getting married were very unique in their circle of friends and drew people to them with interesting journeys. Pervez was immediately intriguing to me. She was abrupt and to the point, yet a very understanding, even apologetic person.
She wasn’t able to make it however due to unexpected circumstances but somehow I felt I would hear from her again. We friended each other on Facebook and as one does, kind of forgot about it.
Till that is, COVID-19, and her announcing that she had been diagnosed with presumptive COVID-19. She updated her Facebook friends and in a way, well pretty much indirectly asked for prayers. She was really sick. That was evident in how she articulated her messages…but even more so after I reached out to her and spoke with her over the phone and suggested an interview.
At first Pervez though very much a person to speak up when and if ever being pushed around, refused and even evaded interviews. She was then approached by CBC, and a discovery interview proceeded but a follow up never materialized. And so she decided to speak with me. Only over the phone and I had an hour window, anything more, she just couldn’t handle it.
WATCH: Full first interview with Dr. Summer Pervez, Presumptive COVID-19 Patient
Pervez laboured through the interview, and I winced at every breath she took while relating to me her experience from diagnosis to several interactions with paramedics to a troubling hands off and dismissive visit to VGH.
But I should state that Pervez’s experience caused me some discomfort at the time of the interview in March and later in May. A key takeaway was that she had been met by paramedics who were nervous to deal with her and by an empty ER that essentially sent her home without shoes on a rainy Vancouver night, all the while sick and exhibiting symptoms of the Coronavirus.
I subsequently made trips past the ER at night and found waiting ambulances and a very quiet VGH, as is normal during the pandemic, though I can’t fully speak for every night.
Now of course, this doesn’t mean that deep inside the hospital people weren’t affected or dying, but the fact has long since been established that B.C. and certainly the lower mainland had much lower numbers of people in hospitals and were operating at times at lower staff capacities than usual. So her observations definitely now would appear to be consistent. But at first, they were shocking.
So the strategy was to keep people isolated to stop the spread? That was more safe than putting people affected into quarantine areas so they could be treated and observed and the virus could be confronted? What if you lived alone? Several stories came out over the last couple months where people living alone would quarantine and quickly die alone.
With everyone clapping at 7pm for healthcare workers this strategy initially felt like cowardice.
I want to vocalize that, not to spurn any negative thoughts or unbalanced hateful comments towards health workers but to speak to those, who frankly in a time of war, albeit against a nearly invisible insurgent, need heros, such as our doctors and nurses in cool blue uniforms and white coats, not to show fear, but to willingly put themselves in between us, and the demons attacking our immune systems.
WATCH: Full follow-up interview with Dr. Summer Pervez, Presumptive COVID-19 Patient
I was shook by the interview. I did pray for her. I couldn’t listen to 7pm anymore. It didn’t bring comfort. It still doesn’t. I had to reflect on what I had been hearing and seeing in the media and how it was reported. In certain times in history more often than not, the free press plays a very real role of being the voice not always of the people and it’s own court but the directive and will of the government.
Before getting carried away with conspiracy and conjecture, please note, I didn’t say that this is always a bad thing, although yes it can be. Sometimes the need to let a nation know about imminent threats, about major changes and so forth cannot be simply done by a parliament TV channel…let’s face it, nobody would tune in. No, you need the popular press, the jester to catch people’s attention in the din of potential chaos.
So, impending pandemic, invoke CBC, CTV, Global…you name it.
But the side effect can sometimes show itself in the intoxication of media whose stakeholders can point to ratings and say in later publicity ads, “we reported it first, we are the trusted source to hear from doctors and politicians”. Yes it’s journalism, there is some genuine truth to the code of impartial and unbiased ethical reporting, in fact it’s considered a staple of democracy…but it is vital to remember it is part of the big tent, it is still show business…and the show must go on.
After my interview with Pervez, I felt I needed to follow up with a face to face interview, but before that could happen, protests in Vancouver, some of the first in North America commenced. They were protesting the lockdown (or heavily suggested restrictions) and vaccines, the fear of rushing to a vaccine in months or a year rather than years, as the world rushes towards a vaccine for COVID-19.
Well, how could I sit by now and not at least cover and document this uprising. The hate towards protestors on the street as I mentioned at the outset of this article was and has been visceral. My journey of discovery started in Chilliwack BC May 4th and ended in Vancouver BC, sometime in June.
It was while covering these protests that I was introduced to Susan Stanfield-Spooner, a human rights activist. Like Bonnie Henry, she’s a little blonde lady, but with a voice that carries blocks. Though that fits in the midst of a protest I hoped it wouldn’t be the same in a FaceTime interview. Sure enough it wasn’t.
So much caution was expressed to me from friends who knew I was going to do the interview, the encouragement was to not let “them” have a platform to build on, it could really hurt us.
As a journalist, and in my personal time as a philanthropist (through donation of time rather than funds mind you) I feel strongly in the right and power of free speech. Absolutely, I do believe that even free speech has decency as it’s boundary, but ultimately I can keep that to myself and uphold the rights of free speech at all times. If I don’t like something for whatever reason I feel that I am perfectly able to keep that to myself if I wish or speak up if it is the right thing.
So for those of you who’ve stated your case and spoken up to me, thank you, and those of you who may watch the interview, I only ask you to do the piece at least one favour, attempt to see if you can identify the intent. The intent of each person I speak to, in my estimation, is of key importance to being able to hear, accept or dismiss with peacekeeping in mind, the thoughts, statements and recounting by each interviewee.
WATCH: Full interview with Susan Sanfield-Spooner, Activist and Civil Rights Movement Leader
Finally, Dr Lawrence Loh. I had actually tried to get a hold of someone from the health ministry, someone from Fraser Valley health to speak to us in regards to contact tracing and vaccines and their effectiveness and so forth. But I was very quickly told that no one was available. To be honest I find that a little bit troublesome. Granted I don’t have all the facts as to why nobody was available, but I really was sort of disappointed that I couldn’t speak to anyone in BC.
Dr Lawrence Loh happens to be a friend of a friend by the name of Dr. Yvette Lu. We had interviewed Lu previously in March and it is a point of Surrey604.com when possible to forward her practical suggestions to our readers. Questions on masks, transmissions and so forth.
When I put out the word that I was interested in speaking to someone about contact tracing, Dr. Loh who is the acting health minister for the Peel Region of Ontario let me know if I couldn’t find anybody he’d be willing to speak with me. So we will have to call it a team effort from Health Canada. Thank you Lawrence…
WATCH: Full interview with Dr. Lawrence Loh, Health Minister of Peel Region, Ontario
This was a really cool interview with Dr. Loh. He really has a relaxed way about him, yet he’s precise and he gave me clear answers. You know, we really want healthcare personnel to be like him and at that particular point I was losing some faith I had concerns. I think a lot of people have gone through the ups and downs of whether to believe COVID-19 is as bad as predicted or did we jump the gun?
Yes, we’ve been at home suffering depression, solitude, anxiousness over how we would make our daily bread, over how we’d grow our families. We’ve seen the movies, we watched Armageddon, we watched Contagion over and over on Netflix…we are an educated movie going bunch of humans in the age of documentaries.
The quality of misinformation media and the self professed or publicly acclaimed quality of critical thinking presented in any given media platform and that which has been curated by big media conglomerates such as the CBC and so on, from doctors, physicians, who aren’t discredited, who are held with high regard now is very marginal.
This tool of the Internet, the ease and convenience of technology to record and pen our thoughts and feelings and our suspicions and our conspiracies has never been so pervasive…it’s the ultimate deep fake.
When you watch the interview with Dr. Loh he discusses how he’s worked hard to train investigators to better complete the job of contact tracing and to go after the disease. It does feel like, although some would argue while breaching our freedoms rightfully so, like at least one method of attack to head out and find and face the Demon.
Again, as you watch the interview I ask you to reflect upon what you see or hear as the intent of the interviewee.
What I heard from every single one of them was truth, deep belief in what they were saying. An interest in making sure our world is better and that our neighbours can learn from the things they’ve experienced.
As a second wave looms upon us whether you believe it to be real part of a greater conspiracy or you are indifferent but still wishing to be cautious, it is apparent, in my mind, maybe in yours, we need to find a way to make a true change in the system with which we, at least in North America, have become accustomed to.
We need to find out why after so much loss of life in the last century and it’s continuation now, why we are still so shocked and afraid at the loss of life now.
Why do we cling to eternity yet live only for the moment? Are we asking the big questions? And have we found out answers that provide us with calmness and peace?
What happens to us when we die?
Why do we die?
Why if we are all human can we not get along?
What is the purpose of life?
Perhaps if anything the overwhelming sea of information can give all of us, the impetus to ask and maybe truly find for ourselves these answers…to these big questions.
Or else, what was it all worth?
Surrey Today Podcast: Kal Dosanjh of Kids Play – Keeping Kids Away From Drugs, Gangs, and Violence
In today’s episode, law enforcement veteran Kal Dosanjh talks about how the Kids Play Foundation is working to build a better future for marginalized youth. Below is a high-level overview of what we discussed:
- The growing problem of marginalized youth getting into a lifestyle of drugs, gangs, and violence.
- The Vancouver Police Department’s involvement in helping marginalized youth, prior to the establishment of the Kids Play Foundation.
- The birth of Kids Play Foundation, and specific examples of how they are guiding youth out of a life of crime, and into better futures. Examples include youth who went through the Kids
- Play Foundation program, and ultimately became law enforcement and correctional officers.
As mentioned in the episode, below are the referenced links:
Surrey Today Podcast: An Interview with DJ Goddess – Jessica Dhillon
In tonight’s episode of the Surrey Today Podcast, podcast host Kamran, had an amazing opportunity to interview DJ Goddess (a.k.a. Jessica Dhillon). We had a chance to hear about her origin story, her humble upbringings, and the work she put in to get to where she is now.
As promised in the episode, below are the links we mentioned in the episode.
DJ Goddess Website – https://www.djgoddess.com/
DJ Goddess Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/iamdjgoddess
Crown That Goddess – https://crownthatgoddess.com/
SFU Study: Mask Mandates Shown To Significantly Reduce Spread Of COVID-19
A new study by Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers has found clear evidence that wearing a mask can have a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19. The researchers, from SFU’s Department of Economics, have determined that mask mandates are associated with a 25 per cent or larger weekly reduction in COVID-19 cases.
The finding of their study, still in preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, conclude that mandating indoor masks nationwide in early July could have reduced the weekly number of new cases in Canada by 25 to 40 per cent in mid-August, which translates into 700 to 1,100 fewer cases per week.
The study analysed the impact of mask mandates that were implemented across Ontario’s 34 Public Health Units (PHUs) over the course of two months.
Researchers compared the results of PHUs that adopted mask mandates earlier to those that adopted mandates later. They determined that, in the first few weeks after their introduction, mask mandates were associated with an average weekly reduction of 25 to 31 per cent in newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases, relative to the trend in mask mandate absence, in July and August.
A further Canada-wide analysis with province-level data found a significantly negative association between mask mandates and subsequent COVID-19 case growth – up to a 46 per cent average reduction in weekly cases in the first several weeks after adoption.
These results were supported by additional survey data that showed mask mandates increase self-reported mask usage in Canada by 30 percentage points, suggesting that the policy has a significant impact on behaviour.
Jointly, these results suggest that mandating indoor mask wear in public places is a powerful policy measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, with little associated economic disruption in the short term.
The study also found that relaxed restrictions on businesses and gatherings (including retail, restaurants and bars) were positively associated with subsequent COVID-19 case growth – a factor that could offset and obscure the health benefits of mask mandates.
The most stringent restrictions on businesses and gatherings observed in the data were associated with a weekly decrease of 48 to 57 per cent in new cases, relative to the trend in the absence of restrictions.
The study authors note that while the results are significant, their sample period does not allow them to definitively say whether the effect of mask mandates persists or weakens beyond the first few weeks after implementation. However, they conclude that, combined with other policy measures, mask mandates can be a potent policy tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
- Mask mandates are associated with a 25 to 46 per cent average reduction in weekly COVID-19 cases across Canada.
- Requiring indoor masks nationwide in early July could have reduced new COVID-19 cases in Canada by 25 to 40 per cent in mid-August, which translates into 700 to 1,100 fewer cases per week.
- Mask mandates were shown to increase self-reported mask usage in Canada by 30 percentage points.
- The most stringent restrictions on businesses and gatherings (including retail, restaurants and bars) were associated with a weekly decrease of 48 to 57 per cent in new cases, relative to the trend in the absence of restrictions.
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