Pandemic Journal 22/4/2020 — Earth Day Walks

Avi Steinberg, The New Yorker

What Brings You Down?

Alberta’s other contagious and deadly disease – the UCP virus.

Our Alberta provincial government is failing. Unsurprisingly.

Doctors are fleeing the province. Rural clinics are closing leaving the UCP voters high and dry without medical care. All the better to create a vacuum that will be filled by Kenney’s plans to privatize healthcare.

I call my doctor about my health and I am rerouted to another doctor at the practice. I tell the doctor how sorry I am at the healthcare workers’ treatment by the UCP. Kenney tore up the doctor’s contract just before the pandemic. The doctor thanks me for these words of support and then begins to cry. I understand.


MLA Devin Dreeshen, UCP minister of agriculture and forestry & Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the provincial chief medical officer of health. “Cargill employees take part in virtual town hall meeting with officials.,” Calgary Sun (April 18, 2020)

Workers at Cargill, a large local meat-packing plant that processes one-third of Canadian beef, warned of coronavirus. They were ignored and sent back to the workplace having tested positive. The contagion exploded and more than half of the 400 cases in the area are now connected with this plant. Sixty to seventy percent of the workers are Filipino. The Minister of Agriculture who flew into the legislature on the coattails of his father, a federal MP, trained for his job in part by working for Trump’s 2016 campaign. He even wears the polo shirt favoured by White Supremacists. The government agency investigates the factory via FaceTime. Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer notes that some of the contamination occurred via carpooling when one of the passengers had “sniffles.” There is no articulation of the fact these workers live and work communally to save money to send home to their families. Many are Temporary Foreign Workers who are ineligible for citizenship and must return home after four years. No surprise at the Alberta UCP government’s cavalier disinterest in supporting these workers. (I could give you supporting material for all of this, but even sleuthing for the information that informs me about the UCP depresses me. Here is a summary timeline with links..

When In Doubt, Walk.

I could have stayed home and zoomed or FaceTimed someone all day. Instead I walked. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Always at a distance from my companionable neighbours who accompanied me. Five or six miles or ten kilometres or enough mileage for one of our first spring days here at latitude 53.

Mid-morning on my first walk, Nelly McClung Park sprouted a young family as Helen and I headed into the river valley.
My favourite new Walterdale Bridge up ahead with its ample and gracious passerelle that I wrote at length about here.
Simone de Bebe at my side.
The icy shore. Open water.
Looking south from the other side of the North Saskatchewan River, the day looks grey but so welcome in its warmth. Snow has disappeared for the most part. Spring arrives in Edmonton like a flash of lightening in two or three days of heat.
The north riverbank chiselled by the disappearing ice embraces tree trunks in its grasp…. The power plant is a handsome abandoned building awaiting artists to enliven it again.
Anachronisms abound – “Boiler House”
No. 2 Pumping Station 1955
The promise of green and new life.
Further along, a miniature bridge.
And a solitary bench experiencing social isolation as the river moves on
Open water on the North Saskatchewan – Spring 2020
We cross into Rossdale, now an upscale residential area on the formerly commercial Rossdale Flats established on Indigenous land in the early 1800s.
A powerful public sculpture in Rossdale. If you know who the artist is, please let me know. The mother and Raven or is it? A welcome trickster in any case. These days we need to see the slippery doubleness in all things. [My friend Sheena notes this is the work of Stewart Steinhauer of Saddle Lake Cree Nation – the same sculptor who did the wonderful buffalo sculpture in Tubby Bateman Park in Mill Creek
Helen and I head under the bridge where painters enliven the view.
A window on the river through an artist’s imagination.
My pandemic dreams include these geese and ducks.
My second walk of the day: by mid-afternoon, my neighbour Maarten and I resumed our daily dog walk with Annie and Simone de Bebe in Mill Creek Ravine. Look at the splendid sky…
…filled with magnificent clouds and cleared to a brilliant blue. On a balmy afternoon, fashion forward men and women brave shorts.

1 thought on “Pandemic Journal 22/4/2020 — Earth Day Walks”

  1. […] Remember how the workers who are infected in the Cargill meat-packing plant are 60-70% Filipino. They complained of the COVID-19 illness and the Kenney government did nothing. Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture trained in Trump’s White supremacist 2016 presidential campaign. Now the Cargill workers make up more than half of the 400 or so coronavirus cases connected to the plant. Racialized people continue to be discounted and dehumanized. […]


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