Windsor-Essex County is the southernmost point of Canada and borders the United States. The county was built by the dreams and destinies of immigrants who came to Canada many years ago to start a new life, start a career, get better opportunities, or to seek refuge. If one were to look around Windsor-Essex county, a broad variety of cultural backgrounds can be seen. These cultural backgrounds originated from many countries, including Italy, Portugal, Lebanon, and Mexico, whose ancestors have put down roots here for numerous generations. People from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq have moved here more recently due to recent political conflict. These cultures and various traditions have been passed down from generation to generation and shaped the county to become what it is today.
Examples of cultures and traditions that can be found in the county today include food from various cultural restaurants and community centres (for instance, the Roma Club of Leamington or Polish Club of Windsor), cultural observances and celebrations within the community (for instance, the Festival of Saint Michael the Archangel), and through various beliefs and customs. With these traditions having exposure to the community, a sense of unity, family, and understanding is created; as there is a mutual understanding of the importance of tradition and various beliefs. This sense of unity has helped the community to work together and support others in times of need.
In the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 impacted the world, as the number of diagnoses rose day by day. When the virus came to Canada, Canadians were severely affected. As of July 2020, the average rate was 301 diagnoses per day in Canada. Due to the high volume of diagnoses within the country, Canada had no choice but to lock down in order to “flatten the curve.” Thousands of businesses had to close, and millions of Canadians had to “quarantine” in their homes and/or self-isolate. With this closure, a significant economic decline occurred, and many businesses were unable to offer their services. During Stage 1, people (including small business owners) had to quickly adapt their business to a new reality, and alter the way things were done, such as online ordering and contactless pickup. And the community reciprocated by supporting these businesses whenever possible. Thus the phrase “Buy Local” could be seen all over social media. When it was time to move into Stage 2, Windsor-Essex County was the last region in Canada to progress. However, this did not stop the community from supporting one another and working together. As a community, there was a mutual understanding of the struggle and situation that was being faced, as there was a stronger desire to progress into Stage 2. With this, the community still “bought local” and ensured to follow COVID-19 regulations (for instance, wearing a medical mask and practicing social distancing) in order to lower the rate of diagnoses. This was very successful, as the county ended up spending only two weeks without progressing into Stage 2.
People say that every coin has two sides. One side features various positives about Windsor-Essex county, including its people, unity, and culture. On the other side of the coin is a harsh fact to face—hunger still exists. According to statistics from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, one in ten households is moderately or severely food insecure, and one in four low income households is moderately or severely food insecure. With these facts, it is evident to see that hunger is an issue in Windsor-Essex County. On June 27, the June 27th Miracle food donation fundraiser occurred. This fundraiser allowed the people of Windsor-Essex County to donate non-perishable food items and hygiene products to the local food banks by placing their donations at their doorstep or by taking them to a local donation centre, like the South Essex Community Council centres. A total of 10,000 volunteers assisted in this effort across eight towns and forty drop-off locations. In just one day alone, the fundraiser collected over two million pounds of food and hygiene product donations. Between the amount of volunteers and donations, this shows that there is a mutual drive to donate, give back to those in the community, and help out those who are in need.
With these points of evidence in mind, the sense of unity, understanding, and mutual support are helpful now, and can be beneficial in the future; helping to create a balanced utopia. A utopia is a state of society that can be deemed as perfection, as every aspect of society is balanced. This perfection can exist in politics, overall living conditions, and with society in interactions. In regards to politics and the idea of perfection, the mayors and other municipal officials in our communities are connected and communicate often. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the mayors of the county’s communities banded together and worked together to cohesively bring this area through some of the lowest stages of this pandemic. For the future, it is important to keep this connection and communication in order to keep the area thriving. The desire to help others and support the needy can also be beneficial in creating a utopia. If this desire is consistent in Windsor-Essex County, the level of community need will eventually decrease. For instance, if people continue to consistently donate non-perishable food items in large volumes, there will eventually be no people who go hungry. In order to work towards this ideal state and make it a reality, the people of Windsor-Essex County must continue to be unified to work towards common causes and be understanding of the attributes (for example, cultural background) that make people unique individuals.
Can a utopia exist? We really don’t know. However, thanks to the sense of unity and understanding that can be found within the community paired with the drive to support others and succeed collectively, I feel that the area of Windsor-Essex County could one day become a utopia. The people of the county supported those with small businesses at a time of unknowns and supported those in need through a fundraiser that had unprecedented results. Through the community’s unified understanding and beliefs, various current issues have been combated, and the beliefs can help to create a more balanced and unified future.