Adam: The silver linings of 2020
There’s no doubt 2020 will be remembered for the awful pandemic that wreaked so much havoc and caused so much pain. But 2020 also gave us George Floyd, whose death inspired the world to take a stand against racism, and the year marked, hopefully, the end of the Donald Trump era.
No matter your politics, the storming of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday by Trump supporters should leave no doubt about this.
The pandemic certainly left deep scars and changed the world in a way we haven’t seen in a lifetime. The trauma and grief it caused will be etched in memory. Now, a new strain is raising even more alarm. But the tragedy of COVID-19 is also the story of the triumph of science and human endeavour. Brilliant minds went to work and in record time, the world has vaccines that may relieve us of our misery. Vaccines are being administered across the country, and while COVID-19 may yet be defeated, it is something no one will soon forget.
Floyd’s death under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer was a game-changer in race relations, and its impact is already been felt in Ottawa and around the country. Racism is the taboo subject we avoid because it’s not only uncomfortable to engage, but many worry about saying something that comes out wrong and causing offence. In a curious way, Floyd’s death freed us from those constraints.
That knee on Floyd’s neck and his desperate pleas for life spawned a global anti-racism movement and created a new awakening about race relations and police brutality. It forced all of us to confront the elephant in the room we wanted nothing to do with. Now, we speak more freely about race relations and police violence, listen more to each other, and acknowledge its victims. Black Lives Matter became more than just a slogan.
It was Floyd’s death and the ensuing protest march in Ottawa that made Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take a symbolic knee in solidarity with protesters. The rally inspired Mayor Jim Watson to appoint Rawlson King, Ottawa’s first Black councillor, to lead the city’s Anti-Racism Secretariat. Protests around the country helped shine light on police violence against Indigenous Canadians that had long been ignored. Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly’s acknowledgement that systemic racism exists in policing, and RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki’s climbdown after denying systemic racism in the federal force, are examples of changing reality.