Today I want to take a few minutes to acknowledge a current event that emerged right here in Canada. Over the weekend, we were given a grim reminder that just because things have slowed down, doesn’t mean the world has stopped.
An armed gunman has taken the lives of at least 16 people in Nova Scotia after a shooting spree that spanned over 50km.
We’re still learning who the victims are but right now we know they include Heather O’brien, an LPN; Kristen Beaton, a continuing care aid; Lisa McCully, a teacher; and RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson.
I’ve often reflected that one of the most difficult parts of my job as a social studies teacher is to help students work through tragedies. I want to reiterate a few key messages to you about this tragedy in case you don’t hear it anywhere else.
First, I want to reassure you that it’s completely normal to be a little stressed or a little worried when news like this breaks, even thousands of kms away. It’s okay to be sad, to ask questions like “how could this happen in Canada”, or to be a little numb…especially if you have a personal connection to the region or to those who have lost lives. It breaks my heart to see the tragedy but it feels that little bit closer when I see a teacher has died.
Those feelings may turn to interest. Just as it’s normal to be a little stressed or a little worried it’s also normal to be hyper interested in the event. If you’re going down the rabbit hole and finding everything out that’s OK – but I do hope it’s a short lived thing as well.
That ties in to my second point: Find balance. Whether it’s this shooting, COVID, schoolwork, whatever, now more than ever I’m reminded balance is key. Please take time to prioritize your mental well-being. Disconnect from news and social media. Be physically active. Take a moment to savour a piece of chocolate or the sight of a bird.
Remember that there are supports available to you. Our FSLW is still working hard to connect with students. Our Mental Health Capacity Building team is still with us – not only have they sent you resources, the relax group continues each Tuesday. There’s also the Kid’s Help Phone is also available at 1-800-668-6868.
Third, I want you to be good students of history with respect to this and every topic. If you’re not sure of information…fact check it. If you need help in doing so you have my support. I’m here to help make sense of this as I’ve been around to help with other highs and lows.
Finally, I want to encourage you all to reach out to those you love and remind them of that fact. This is a reminder that life comes at us in unexpected ways. Take that time to connect today and every day.
For those, like me, who consider our local RCMP their friends, I ask you to take a moment or two to reach out to them, as well. They serve us breakfast. They run XC with us. They flip hamburgers, read us stories, and run Amazing Races with us. They lost one of their own this weekend: Let’s be there for them as they’ve been there for us so many times.