From the Mayor's Desk:
Communication and Respect
Doug Lawrance - Sioux Lookout Mayor
The current public health crisis related to the novel coronavirus has opened the door for new types and new levels of communications. By necessity we are all, both individually and institutionally, communicating differently. In our small at home family groups the communications are more intense as many of us are now staying home together much more than five or six weeks ago. Family togetherness is generally a good thing, although some may think this is now too much of a good thing. Mutual respect is required as we adapt to the on-going situation. For extended family members who cannot get together, the old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder probably applies. Available video technologies have certainly eased this burden. Many of us will have a renewed recognition of how much those people mean to us when we cannot get together with them in person.
At the institutional level communication has also changed. E-mails continue to fly back and forth. But our meetings are no longer conducted in person. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are now the norm. Rules have been changed to allow Councils and Boards to meet ‘electronically’. Various meeting technologies are being used and participants are gaining skills as we adapt to this current reality. Perhaps the Coronavirus has broken a barrier and the use of ‘electronic’ meeting formats will extend beyond these unusual times. This certainly seems likely and reasonable for regional meetings that have typically required extensive travel by many to join together in one place.
Communications between agencies has also changed. Heightened inter-agency communication is very evident at the local level. Various information sharing groups have formed that meet ‘electronically’ on a regular basis to share information and resources as we address new challenges. The Municipality participates on weekly conferences with overlapping and unique groups. These groups include: Emergency Management Control Group, Municipal and Agency Information Sharing Group, Northwestern Health Unit-Municipal Councils Update Meetings, Vulnerable Population Working Group, Municipality-Friendship Accord Update Meetings. Much information is shared as the agencies and groups work together. A new level of mutual respect is apparent as we recognize and appreciate the capabilities other agencies bring to the effort.
Time never moves backward. The norms of yesterday are not those of today and tomorrow’s normal will not be those of the next day. We will not return to where we were before this public health crisis. We will enter another ‘new normal’ just as we have done for this current period of enormous change. Let’s hope that we can carry some of our new communications skills into the next period. And for sure let’s continue to respect each other for all that we are each capable of as individuals, families, groups, agencies, and communities.