Wisdom, waffling and recommendations to get you through the latest pandemic

IndigNation by Bev Cardinal

The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming so confusing. For instance, the prime minister warning us all about “speaking moistly” and telling everyone to wear a mask in order to protect ourselves from those who are “speaking moistly”. There are only so many ways to illustrate how invisible and deadly droplets of COVID-19 virus-infected spittle can be shared, but I’ll give Justin Trudeau credit — his gross “speaking moistly” visual got everyone’s attention! As a result of this message, my family and I are now proud owners of beautiful Indigenous-made face masks to wear whenever the urge to speak moistly overcomes us (or we simply need to go to teh Walmartz).

Then there are the contradictions. For example: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe scolding us to STAY HOME, SELF-ISOLATE, WALK ONE-WAY ON THE PARK TRAILS, and CLOSE THE BINGO HALLS (BUT NOT THE LIQUOR STORES)! Then, days later, he excitedly shares that he’s going to “Reopen Saskatchewan!” Make up your mind, sir! You either want us to stay the fuck home or you don’t!

I’ll stick with the self-isolation. It’s safer. But I suppose I don’t have to try to get myself and my cronies re-elected in October.


Now is not the time to turn our view inwards but to focus on collective survival, so everyone gets through this in the best possible way. As Indigenous people, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that we descend from generations of grit and resilience. We know all about the impact of disease upon humanity — smallpox? Tuberculosis? H1N1? This is not our first rodeo. Our genetic memory has kicked in to mobilize us to pursue wellbeing — not just for ourselves and our families but for everyone.

So, along with the standard COVID-19 health protocols we should all get tattooed backwards on our foreheads so we can read them in the bathroom mirror, here are a few survival hints you might want to consider.


Elders, Old Ones, and seniors are especially vulnerable; we must treat them with care and vigilance. They’re the precious keepers of language, culture, history, traditions and teachings that cannot be easily replaced. And as we treasure our Old Ones, we must take special care of our children and youth — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.


It’s not contradictory to say that in order to care for others we must care for ourselves. We all need to replenish our spirits, reflect and do what nourishes us and our loved ones. For many this includes creativity and continuing to enjoy reading, artmaking, dancing, drumming, singing, music and especially laughter! Don’t ever discount laughter — it’s the best medicine! Over the past weeks there’s be an explosion of “online movements” responding to COVID-19. This is, after all, a pandemic not only limited to serious physical illness and death. It is also a pandemic that Gen-X, Gen Y and Zedders alike have turned into a social media storm. Our youth and their mentors are totally stepping up to the plate and you can find all kinds of great cyber-experiences: social distance pow wows, Métis jigging and fiddling, virtual beading circles, info on traditional recipes and cooking methods, and tutorials on homemade face-masks (fun AND practical!). Just fire up the ol’ Google and find your fun!

And, in general: look for the light in each situation. Focus on the positives as much as you can. Seek the joy!

Maskawâtisik kahkiyaw! (“Stay well, everyone!”)