Supporting our People

April 16, 2020 - 5:45am

A Column by Dan VanderSluis, Associate Vice-President, Human Resources 

We are a month into the COVID-19 health crisis and its profound impact on our VIU Community. We use the phrase VIU Community a lot, and I hope that you feel you are a meaningful part of this community. The kindness, compassion, patience and caring with which you have treated our students and each other is a testament to the character of our community and the values of our institution.

Within a short time, we moved almost the entire university to a remote work model. Who would have ever thought that was possible?! I want to recognize the many individuals who contributed to this momentous challenge, a challenge we have met with great success.

I hear stories of how people within VIU are doing and I am struck by how the experience is so widely varied. There are uplifting and positive stories about strengthened relationships and people supporting each other. There are stories of teams and departments sustaining relationships through technology. I hear stories of VIU employees who are finding joy and peace, who appreciate a life run at a slower pace as we are forced to set aside much of our over-scheduled lives.

There are also stories of stress, pressure and feelings of disconnection. We are all grappling with significant life impacts. Many of us have dependants who we support at home while we fulfill our day to day work responsibilities. We worry about our health and that of family members and friends. We worry what this means from a financial perspective, and we have family and friends who have lost work. The uncertainty about the impact on our economy and the concern for our community’s health and well-being is palpable and unsettling.

I encourage you all to care for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being as best you can. My spouse, whose role supports crisis lines and suicide prevention services across the country, told me these services experienced a 100% increase in call and text volumes this month. This means there are people among us who are struggling. Please be kind to each other. Support and connect with each other. If you are struggling, we have programs and supports for you and your family.

One of the first full length movies my daughters watched was Finding Nemo and I am reminded of Dory’s famous line: “Just keep swimming!”. I think these words can inspire us through these times -- particularly if we remember that we are swimming together. 


Tags: In the Community


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