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Fort Garry campus.

A message from President David T. Barnard

April 9, 2020 — 

To the University of Manitoba community,

Each one of us is experiencing the impact of COVID-19 in our own way. No two experiences are exactly the same, nor could they be when facing a crisis of this magnitude and complexity.

Usually, during personally turbulent times, we find comfort and renewed strength by gathering with loved ones, recognizing the support that is inherent within a community of friends and family. Yet, as we approach important festivals of the Abrahamic traditions—Passover, Easter and Ramadan—which previously those who celebrate would mark together in a shared space, we know this unprecedented pandemic demands we chart a new course, discovering alternate ways to connect and bridge the physical distance.

As we stay apart from one another and follow with utmost diligence the directives of health officials, my wish for you during this reflective time is to find the harmony and peace that comes from a shared journey to help save lives in Manitoba. Each one of us holds this vital responsibility.

These religious holidays of course offer no reprieve for those working at the frontlines of health care. Among them are 600 students from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as many of our researchers and alumni. For your ongoing sacrifice and courage in the battle against COVID-19, I thank you.

I also want to thank our faculty who continue to find innovative ways to engage with students, and for the leadership role of our Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning who are ensuring we maintain excellence in our classrooms as they have transformed into virtual learning spaces.

I empathize with our students who face even greater challenges now that exam time is approaching. Thank you for continuously adapting to this ever-changing landscape and meeting these challenges head on.

Staff members from every part of UM have adjusted to doing their work differently, demonstrating commitment and creativity in the face of circumstances unlike anything most of us have experienced in our careers.

This exceptional community gives me hope, and I am eager for us to be together again once distancing restrictions are lifted, when we can learn and create alongside one other in labs, art studios and lecture halls.

For now, I find inspiration in myriad traditions from around the world, which remind us to be thankful for our innate ability to persevere, to always seek ways to improve one’s self and society, and to find the hope that lives in challenging days.


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