CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we’re calling Front-line Heroes.
We want to hear your stories, too.
If you’d like to tell us about your front-line hero, send us a video explaining why they’re a hero to you. Or you can send a short description to [email protected] Be sure to include a few photos of the person either way.
Dr. Nadine Laraya
Several of Dr. Nadine Laraya’s colleagues wanted to send her a shout-out for being a hero on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laraya is a family physician and the community family medicine liaison for St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.
One of her colleagues, Dr. Edward Weiss, says she’s been instrumental in ensuring all medical professionals — from family physicians to emergency doctors — in the community have the latest developments when it comes to tackling the crisis.
As a clinical psychologist in Mimico, Jason Keller has seen a spike in trauma and stress throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says he often advises his clients to use coping mechanisms like “limiting exposure to the news and, instead, practising things like purposeful joy and gratitude.”
Earlier this month, he took his own advice.
“I brought back Christmas by putting out my light display again and I created a large sign that says ‘GRATEFUL.’ The whole block signed it and participated,” he said.
The sign is now attached to Keller’s home, where he says it will remain until this pandemic is over.
Suzette Araujo (Nurse Flutter) and Phil Koole (Doc Hopper)
Nurse Flutter and Doc Hopper are helping to fight COVID-19 by administering daily doses of laughter.
The therapeutic clowns — otherwise known as Suzzette Araujo and Phil Koole — work at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
Their colleague Greg Vanden Kroonenberg said: “The inpatient children and staff spirits are lifted every time our clowns enter an area. They are joyful, fun and creative.”
“During the pandemic, our clowns are required to put on masks and have managed to keep their red noses displayed over them, maintaining their joyful appearance and displaying their playful demeanour at all times!”
In the future, with physical distancing measures in place, they also plan to release a program called Clown TV to ensure they can continue to entertain patients.
Julian Warnock is a Canadian Pacific Railway conductor driving cargo across the prairies to ensure Canadians have access to the goods they need during this pandemic, says his sister Ashley.
“He selflessly left his family in Ontario when he was called to temporarily relocate to British Columbia to help on the railway on the west coast,” she said.
“He and his colleagues are working tirelessly in the face of potential exposure and uncertainty in this pandemic to ensure that our rail system is operating … If you define a hero as someone who shows great courage, then he perfectly fits the description.”
Humanity First Food Bank
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven many to food banks.
The food bank at Humanity First, a humanitarian relief organization in Vaughan, Ont., typically serves about 1,200 families per month. In the last five weeks, they’ve seen more than 2,500 families and provided them with a monthly supply of food.
The food bank relies heavily on food-drives, donations and volunteers — all of which are now in short supply — but the organization is continuing to do their best to ensure their clients are fed.
Dr. Aliya Salman and Dr. Maria Salman
Every day, Salman Hasan says he sends his two “sweethearts” to face the COVID-19 pandemic head-on.
His wife, Dr. Aliya Salman, is a staff anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. His daughter, Dr. Maria Salman, is a second-year anesthesia resident with the University of Toronto.
“The N-95 mask with the nose metal brace leaves a mark on their faces after extensive use,” he said.
“It’s hard. I have numbed my mind and I pray for their safety and for every front-line worker battling the pandemic wave and treating the sick.” educational
University of Toronto Scarborough staff
When David Chan heard front-line workers needed more personal protective equipment, he turned to his 3D printers.
The educational developer at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus (UTSC) says he wanted to find a way to protect the health-care workers who are doing so much to keep everyone else safe.
Several members of the UTSC are now using their own printers to create shield visor frames and ear guards. They’ve now produced dozens of each and delivered them to several hospitals.