Read the stories of this week’s CBC Toronto ‘Front-line Heroes’

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.

Each day, we introduce a new face on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, giving the person a shout-out for their important work. At the end of the week, you can find their stories here.

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

Laraya is a family physician and the community family medicine liaison for St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto. 1:00

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.

Jason Keller

Jason Keller’s sign is now hanging in front of his home. (Submitted by Jason Keller)

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)

The therapeutic clowns — otherwise known as Suzzette Araujo and Phil Koole — work at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. They’ve created some musical performances for patients and staff, including the hospital’s screeners. 0:43

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

Julian Warnock, bottom, is a railroad conductor for Canadian Pacific Railway. (Submitted by Ashley Warnock)

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

Volunteers say seniors, sick people and single parents and families without income are now relying on the food bank. 1:25

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

Dr. Aliya Salman, left, is a staff anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Maria Salman, right, is a second-year anesthesia resident with the University of Toronto. (Submitted by Salman Hasan)

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

The University of Toronto Scarborough campus community is developing PPE using 3D printing technology, given the shortage on the front line. 1:39

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.



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