There is a can-do spirit which defines Saskatchewan.
It is a spirit shaped by periods of difficulty and loss, such as the Great Depression, World War II, and in 9/11. The common thread to each was that people found strength by coming together. This is what we do in Saskatchewan.
Today, because of the COVID-19 crisis, we are forced to be apart.
Despite the new reality of social distancing and self-isolation, however, I have witnessed that Saskatchewan’s can-do spirit is stronger than ever during this unprecedented disruption.
These past four weeks I have been both amazed and humbled to witness the way people of this great province have pulled together to ensure the health and safety of their friends, families, neighbours and work colleagues, while we all attempt to carry on with some sense of normalcy.
At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, this spirit was very much apparent as our faculty, staff and leadership teams came together, and in an incredibly short period of time (approximately one week), prepared courses for online or remote delivery to our students across the province. This would have been a herculean task even in the best of times, reminding us that necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Currently, upon recommendations from the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Advanced Education, students and staff are either studying or working from home or remotely. Of course, this is not without its own challenges. Suffice it to say, we are learning along the way—much like our ancestors did when they settled the province.
As a community, Sask Polytech has come together in other ways. For example, through donations to a newly created Student Emergency Fund which provides aid to students who are struggling financially as they deal with this public health emergency. Many of our students have jobs and families, and have been affected first-hand by closures and work furloughs. The tremendous support the institution is receiving in response will ensure a degree of help for many.
I have also witnessed Saskatchewan’s can-do spirit in action through stories I hear of the work of our alumni, many of whom are on the front lines in critical sectors like health care and service.
As well, this spirit is evident in creative in-house web tools our staff have developed, again in a very short period. These tools allow Sask Polytech to stay socially connected, take part in daily events like yoga on Mondays, or learn from webinars covering topics ranging from working remotely to responding well when faced with a crisis.
There is no question that our lives have been forever altered. Many aspects of life will be significantly different once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. For Sask Polytech, this represents new opportunities and innovations in the way post-secondary education is delivered. Already, our teams are looking ahead to apply new insights and approaches to transform the learning and teaching environments across the institution.
Yet another example of the can-do spirit of Saskatchewan in action.
Published April 2020.