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Speaking Out: I hope for a better tomorrow

By  Kathleena Henricus, Youth Speak News
  • December 22, 2021

As we bask in the Christmas season and the days leading up to 2022, perhaps now is the time to reflect on this past year.

I’m sure many of us hoped that 2021 would be better than 2020 as society would be restored to the pre-COVID era and the pandemic could slowly become a memory in the rear-view mirror. It was not the case.

It’s common on the Internet to see people saying that a whole decade of events has occurred over the last two years, and it really does seem true. It seems we’ve been desensitized to both the good and the horrific we’ve seen over the last 12 months — over the course of the whole pandemic. It’s hard to quantify that vaccines were rolled out earlier this year, and hard to remember the feeling of visceral hope that accompanied it, especially in the thick of anti-vaccine rhetoric and in the wake of the newest variant, Omicron.

Despite all the triumphs and heartache and progressive scientific discoveries, it is important to acknowledge the exhaustion of this year and what we choose to hope and pray 2022 will be like.

As a young person just setting out with more independence in this confusing time, there are definitely hopes that I have for the next year — hopes that I think echo the sentiments of many other Catholic youth across the globe.
For the first time since the pandemic began, we have the opportunity to combat this variant with scientifically-backed solutions as a community, a faith group and a nation at large. We must protect ourselves and our loved ones, and I hope the efforts of frontline workers, NGOs and researchers finally result in greater turnouts and acceptance for the vaccine.

I hope for a better public response to vaccines as booster shots become widely available. There remains too much anti-vaccine disinformation on social media and in conversation with the people around us and we have seen how COVID is still disproportionately affecting marginalized communities because of vaccine hesitancy.

This past year we also witnessed the discovery of unmarked graves on residential school sites. We saw government officials and civic leaders condemn prior historical actions and commit to restoring and repairing our country’s relationship with Indigenous people.

Commitments and speeches are nice, but actions speak louder than words, so I hope that public calls to action will be answered and we will see natural, concrete and financed steps towards progress made in a timely and bold manner.

Reparations for Indigenous communities have long been promised and long remained undelivered — one only has to look at the impending end to Justin Trudeau’s five-year clock on ending boil-water advisories on reserves to know this country has been severely lacking on Indigenous issues and following up on election promises.

I’m choosing to hope for a difference in 2022, and that a more diligent, consistent public effort will convince our elected officials to do the right thing and start making real progress.

Perhaps as my most personal hope, I wish for peace and protection in so many different ways. I’m praying that 2022 is a year where we are kinder and more community-centric. I’m hoping for random acts of kindness and more standing up for what’s right. I’m hoping for a little more normalcy and more safety in our community. I’m praying for restoration and rejuvenation and a return to the best parts of pre-pandemic life.

So this New Year, I’m hoping for mass social change, political and civic action and greater community commitment to safety and dismantling institutionalized and systemic barriers. A tall order but a necessary one that boils down to praying for a better tomorrow every day.

(Henricus, 18, is a first-year student at Western University in London, Ont.)

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