Manitoulin social media websites have been aflame in recent days with plenty of blaming and shaming posts being shared with little to no effort being made to ensure that what is being shared amongst “friends” has even a remote basis in fact.
But the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of snowbirds have taken the admonishing to self-isolate (why is it we don’t call it quarantine anymore?) to heart and have been diligent in their solitude.
As case in point, the very first two cases to be confirmed on Manitoulin Island were a couple who have returned home from overseas and, we can’t stress this enough, were doing everything right—everything that has been asked of them and more. Theirs is a potential tragedy and a terrifying one at that. They need our support, not our condemnation.
Thankfully there are benefits to social media as well, helping folks to keep in touch while still keeping their distance.
There has also been a steady stream of vitriol aimed at those who might seek to flee to our more remote and rural shores in order to distance themselves from the packed confines of the urban environment. Who can blame them? Well judging by online posts, there are plenty of people lined up to do just that.
It is important that cottagers and summer residents for whom Manitoulin is just a place to get away from it all to keep their distance, to be sure, but for many others Manitoulin is their main home when not sojourning in southern climes on foreign shores.
With an economy that depends heavily on the summer tourist trade and the steady flow of business from all of our summer visitors that flows into local business coffers, it smacks heavily of the biting of hands to be demonizing those folks upon whose custom so many Islanders depend.
It is possible to be polite but firm in urging those who have an alternative residence in which to ride this global pandemic out to stay put. But let us not resort to losing our collective minds on everyone who doesn’t call Manitoulin home 12 months of the year. For many, this Island has been their home, many for generations, and others who have chosen these blessed shores as their new dream home.
Don’t be a serpent in paradise.
One of the most remarkable things about small rural communities, of which Manitoulin is entirely comprised, is how they band together when times are tough. Neighbours from communities all across Manitoulin (and even out to the North Shore and Killarney) have historically come together to assist someone whose barn has been blown down in a devastating windstorm, whose house has been destroyed by fire or who have lost loved ones to calamities of one sort or another.
For all of our best efforts, it is unlikely that the Island will be able to dodge such tragedies taking place before this is over, given the alarming statistics presented to us in regard to what has taken place in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and, with increasing momentum, our neighbours to the south.
This is not a time to attack each other, or to leap thoughtlessly upon the name and blame bandwagon, but rather a time to band together (at a safe social distance) to ensure each of us has the supports we need.
Take a page from the various quilting guilds and other seamsters who are lending their hands and needles to create protective gear in anticipation of need. If you know of someone who has returned from away and needs to isolate, reach out to see if they need something picked up or dropped off.
Let’s do what Islanders do best and care for each other.