In a few days, it will be time to replace the calendar and welcome in a new year.
After the events of 2021, some are likely counting down the minutes until this year is over. This has been a challenging year for many of us.
Many will remember the numerous unprecedented weather anomalies, including record-breaking heat, the third-worst wildfire season in British Columbia’s recorded history, extreme flooding and heavy snowfalls. These conditions alone would make 2021 a memorable year.
The past year will also be remembered for the disturbing discovery of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous students at a former residential school near Kamloops in May. This discovery was the first of many over the year. The number of unmarked graves is now in the thousands. This is an uncomfortable part of Canadian history and many are still working on how to respond.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with new variants and changes to mandates and restrictions, has continued to affect day-to-day life. Close to 80 per cent of all British Columbians are fully vaccinated and this number is increasing. Still, new variants are presenting challenges, even among those who have received the vaccine. Pandemic restrictions have been in place for almost two years, but even with these measures, the province has recorded more than 226,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,400 deaths.
And the opioid crisis, affecting British Columbia and the rest of the country, continued to take its toll with a record number of deaths over the past year. The death rate from opioid overdoses is now the highest on record and while the final statistics for 2021 are not yet available, earlier numbers show significantly more overdose deaths than in previous years.
The end of 2021 will not mean the end of any of these challenges. Rather, the new year will involve addressing ongoing issues and rebuilding from the destruction over the past 12 months.
What has happened over the past year is now part of our history. How we choose to respond in the coming days, weeks and months will determine our future.
– Black Press