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A New Year’s Reflection from HSC Foundation President and CEO, Jonathon Lyon

January 10, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we speak. Terms that most of us hadn’t heard of two years ago continue to dominate headlines, newscasts, pop culture, and simple conversations.

Sadly, 22 months after the coronavirus reached Manitoba, we are still speaking about the importance of “social distancing”; the challenges of “contact tracing”; the need to “pivot”; the move to “remote learning”; and, if you need to cancel a party, just put the word “virtual” before it and hop onto Zoom. These are all terms that were new to us as the pandemic took hold. They feel much less new now.

One term I have heard frequently throughout the pandemic is: “We are all in this together.” Medical experts and policy-makers around the world say it, our leaders say it, media commentators say it, and the term with its requisite hashtag is all over social media. It’s easy to gloss over the words, even dismiss them as a simple slogan.

Over the Christmas holidays, I heard someone say: “We are all in this together”. For whatever reason, on that occasion, I heard the expression as authentic words, not as a slogan, not as a hashtag. What does it really mean when we talk about being in something together?

When I speak to colleagues at HSC who have been working many extra hours under trying conditions to care for Manitobans, I understand what it means to be in this together.

When I hear the story of a donor (whose daughter is a nurse at HSC), calling friends and relatives to raise money to support the HSC Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, I understand what it means to be in this together.

When a local business leader phones me and asks: “What do you need? How can we help?”, I understand what it means to be in this together.

“We are all in this together” is one part call-to-action, one part statement of fact, and one part expression of pride in our community, our Manitoba. And the more I reflect, the more I realize that the term is not time-bound by COVID. From the perspective of the HSC Foundation, the fundraising arm of Manitoba’s hospital, it has always been true, and it always will be.

Time and time again, Manitobans have demonstrated that when it comes to supporting health care, we have always been in this together. Over the HSC Foundation’s 45-year history, new facilities, new technology, new programs, and new research have all been made possible by donors, community leaders, and health care professionals who have always intuitively understood that we are in this together. They don’t need the words or the hashtag, just vision and a profound passion for community well-being and excellence in health care.

And so, as we start a new year, and as we deal with the surge of the Omicron variant, we look forward with optimism and with hope. There will always be a new “this”, a new need, a new challenge, and I am confident that we will always respond together, because we always have.

Thank you for your support. Stay safe, and happy new year.

Jonathon Lyon is president and chief executive officer of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, hscfoundation.mb.ca.

This article originally appeared in the January 8, 2022, edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.