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by Andrew McKay

Simply put, the world has never seen a story like COVID-19.  There has never been a topic that dominated media as much as the coronavirus outbreak did, eclipsing the US election, and amplifying issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty, and access (or lack of) to health care.

As we looked back at the stories that resonated with the OMNI audience in 2020, one theme rang true: help. During one of the darkest times in modern history, Canada’s third-language communities stepped up to help in immeasurable ways.

  • At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, amidst much suspicion and hearsay about China’s role in the disease’s spread, a group of friends started an app to help passengers from China who were stranded at Vancouver’s airport after taxis refused to pick them up.
  • Abhay and Sukhmeet Singh Sachal formed Break the Divide, a non-profit organization to connect students in Nunavut’s First Nations communities to youth in Surrey, B.C.
  • Toronto’s Wesley Altuna, after being laid off from his day job, launched Bawang, an online restaurant that specialized in homemade Filipino food.
  • Guru Nanak Food Bank opened in Surrey on Canada Day. During the pandemic, members of the Sikh community get to together to open a food bank, keeping the core belief of selfless service at the forefront.
  • In Quebec, Les Petites Mains worked to support women struggling as single parents or new immigrant women looking for work, giving them a safe space to learn useful trade skills and integrate into the labour market.
  • Licensed Filipino medical practitioners tried to help during the pandemic, but were turned away, highlighting a flaw in Canada’s immigration policy that has long seen skills underutilized.
  • Life For Lives Community Action Centre, a Toronto-based non-governmental social support organization with a focus on multiculturalism, transformed its office into a food bank at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

2020 was a dark year, without doubt. OMNI News was pleased to be able to shine a light on the people and organizations that strive every day to make Canada a better place to live. We wish you the best in this holiday season, and look forward to a bright and prosperous new year.