By Shirley Roberts and Munira Yusuf
– January 2022 –
The new year is always a time to pause, to reflect on the past year and to think about our hopes and expectations for the future. Because the last eighteen months have been so challenging for all of us, there may be a particular wish to put 2021 behind us and to welcome 2022 with a renewed spirit. With the rise of the new Omicron variant in December, it’s fair to say that our optimism for renewal is being tested.
This month, we asked residents of St. James Town how they weathered the last year. We asked them to list some words that best describe 2021, what they are most grateful for, some things they learned about themselves and what advice they would give themselves as we begin the new year.
Resident of St. James Town, a mother of two children, said the “last eighteen months were personally so difficult to manage for our family.” The pandemic cost her husband, the family’s only wage earner, his job – causing a great deal of uncertainty until he was able to find employment nine months later. Despite this, she said she feels “happy and grateful for the last year because I have plenty of time with kids and husband and made beautiful memories.”
The advice this resident gives herself is that she will “take some time for myself from the busy daily schedule and take care of the health of my family and me; and will have good quality time with my friends.”
A community worker and resident, Anas Ameen, shared his insights on the new year. “I have learned to become more patient. We are learning to function in an abnormal situation where we are forced to adapt to these changes.”. As a father of two, he shares his worry regarding the uncertainty of the future while describing the past year as sad, demotivating, but hopeful. His advice to himself as he begins the new year is to “try to make change. Do something different.”
For Amtul Noor, a volunteer with The Corner in St. James Town, 2021 was a year “all about keeping everyone healthy by getting them vaccinated.” As a newcomer to Canada, Noor expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help the community by assisting with the distribution of vaccines in vaccination pop-up clinics. “I am grateful to the community for all the skills and experience I gained from working here.”
Hope, faith and possibility are words that Noor says best describe this past year. “We have to keep hope and faith for the possibilities coming.” Sentiments like these offer encouragement and support to anyone who may be feeling exhausted and discouraged by the rise of the new variant and are a reminder that vaccinations and community involvement are ways that can get us through these new challenges.
Some advice she would like to give herself as we begin the new year includes “work hard, not to give up, be productive and hope for the best.” As we welcome 2022, this may be a great formula for resetting our expectations and greeting the new year with renewed optimism.