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It has been quite a challenging year thanks to COVID-19, but it highlighted some of the key newcomer contributions to our communities.  

Even though no one anticipated the swift, dramatic change of events that unfolded over the past year, it pressed us to adjust and adapt quickly and be more responsive. If anything, it showed how small the world is and how we’re connected and easily impacted. The pandemic didn’t discriminate regardless of where, when, who, or what we do. 

Newcomers often learn early on to be open to new challenges. The fact they are immigrants has something to do with it. Acquired adaptation skills help them persevere during tough situations. Newcomers are among many frontline workers providing essential services at a higher exposure risk, but often overlooked prior to the pandemic. 

What was quite remarkable is most newcomers showed the resilience that’s a key trait among immigrants. They are among the many community groups to whom we need to show our gratitude for their efforts to strengthen our communities during these difficult times.   

I’m fortunate to be among the ones working primarily from home since March of last year. One of the most valuable parts of working from home was spending more time with my son, home-schooling him during the lockdown. I became not just an employee fulfilling my duties and responsibilities supporting our team, but as a parent I also found myself becoming a full-time teacher and entertainer for my then seven-year-old, Grade 2 son.  

This was an extensive and condensed family bonding time indeed, added to days full of meetings via MS Teams, Skype, Zoom, phone, which are the norm now. 

COVID-19 also fostered resilience and created an opportunity to be more creative when looking at solutions. I was touched by the simple acts of kindness by numerous friends and neighbours that dropped off a loaf of freshly-made bread, or a pie, a baked meal, a bottle of drink, or a box of chocolates. 

I believe what we have here is another cycle of humanity adapting to circumstances, which happens throughout time since humans started to form communities and societies. The difference is we are better equipped with modern science to understand what we’re dealing with. Innovation is big part of managing the virus situation or to get over it.  

As for spirituality, it becomes more important to have to help with mental health and deal with work, family, and life commitments, demands, and stresses. In my case, I seek my spirituality from my beliefs and cultural roots and mix them with my never-ending hunger for nature and greenspaces. I often get prospective from simple things like gardening within my small backyard at home. Seeding, trimming, and watching plants grow gives me such a fulfilment that often recharges my energy level. I usually get clarity on decisions and situations afterwards.  

I’m highly optimistic we will get over this and get out of it stronger, more creative, responsive, humble, and caring. Social distancing may exist right now but that’s physically, not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. We will turn this social distancing around when it’s safe to gather once more. 

Rany Ibrahim

Rany Ibrahim is a business strategy professional, communicator, writer, analyst, business workforce consultant, tech startup founder, and part-time university faculty. He also serves on various academic and professional boards. Rany is a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, is among Atlantic Canada’s 50 most inspiring entrepreneurial leaders under 40, is a Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards winner, and was recognized by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for his contributions and community involvement. He is passionate about immigration, human rights, freedoms, and democracy.

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