Two years ago for the final edition of 2020, I wrote about that unforgettable pandemic-dominated year, and I looked forward to 2021 with hope.
How naive of me.
Year two of the pandemic proved to be even more dramatic and contentious as vaccines were rolled out but wave after wave of COVID hit the world.
That year also kicked off with the January 6 mob in Washington where Donald Trump supporters stormed the capital. Closer to home, a heat dome razed a town, an atmospheric river put the Sumas Prairie under water, and landslides devastated towns and the Coquihalla.
The disinformation spread by COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers started to get out of control.
On to 2022. What could go wrong?
On a personal, physical note, I ruptured a disc in my spine skiing on March break then had skin cancer surgery in April. The cancer is gone and I’m on the mend thanks to physiotherapy and time, so I won’t complain.
Internationally this year, the war in Ukraine and protests in Iran dominated the news. We localized both world events with a number of stories on Chilliwack’s Chad Martz and his work with Hungry for Life International on the front lines in Ukraine. Ghazaleh Nozamani who lives and works in Yarrow, is campaigning for change in Iran, a country where she was once tortured.
The national news cycle was dominated in January and February by the “freedom convoy” protest against vaccine mandates and, well, other stuff. This was a Canadian version of January 6 in Washington, call it mob-lite.
The trickle across the country of those (freely allowed to be) screaming about freedom resonated all year long. We even had a conspiracy theorist with a bullhorn come to our office to scream his “plandemic” disinformation in the summer. As recently as December there were half a dozen sign-toting individuals still meeting up at city hall on Young Road looking for attention.
This year also saw unprecedented snow and ice here in December, and August was the hottest month ever in Chilliwack. The new climate change reality has reared its head over and over these last two years, and we can only expect more in the future.
We saw our share of crime this year, most disturbingly a rise in so-called “K” files, or domestic assaults. Some say we are living amid an epidemic of domestic violence. That combined with my legal pet peeve of the year, too many offenders being granted bail too easily, led to the horrific double homicide of Mimi Kates and Amber Culley by a mutual former romantic partner.
But hey, it wasn’t all bad this year. We saw cute stories, inspiring stories, people doing good deeds, making real change and improving our city. The downtown mural festival is one such example of an improvement to the ever-changing Chilliwack.
There are several new developments all over the city, but particularly downtown that are bringing people back to the core. District 1881 has proven to be an incredible addition to Five Corners. That, along with the Paramount Project and the redevelopment of the old Safeway site are literally going to bring more people to a downtown they can be proud of.
The municipal election saw two of the most divisive school trustees ever turfed from office and a new, mostly progressive, board elected.
And while we are far from true reconciliation between descendants of settlers and the Indigenous community, it feels like we are inching closer in the wake of graves being found at former residential school sites.
I asked an older man recently how he was doing. He responded that he couldn’t complain… because no one would listen. I prefer to not complain because not only could things always be worse, but because life is pretty good.
There will be tumult ahead in 2023 to be sure. There will also be good times, good deeds, and love.
Happy New Year. Bring it on.
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