March 17, 2020Print | PDF
Waterloo Region has a reputation for coming together as a community, especially in difficult times.
A shining example is the collaborative action of a wide array of partners who leveraged existing relationships and came together in the past few weeks to address both the global COVID-19 health crisis and the ongoing challenge of unsanctioned street gatherings.
For the first time in years, almost no one attended the large, dangerous street gatherings associated with St. Patrick’s Day in Waterloo.
There are likely many reasons for this, but at the heart of it is community leadership.
The heads of many organizations from across the region spoke as one united voice in urging students and others not to attend large unsanctioned gatherings on March 17.
The call to action was loud and clear: in the face of a highly transmissible virus, forego the crowded street gatherings for the greater good of the community — especially for those among us who are most vulnerable.
This message was delivered often and forcefully by a wide range of community leaders: from the regional medical officer of health to the mayors of Waterloo and Kitchener and the chair of the Region of Waterloo; from the chief of the regional police service to the chief of the Waterloo Fire Rescue; from the regional EMS to local hospitals; and from my colleagues in post-secondary education to the incredible young people who lead our student governments.
Most leaders have strong teams to support them. To those people who work so hard behind the scenes, I thank you for your extraordinary commitment to the well-being of our community.
I would also like to acknowledge the role played by the students of this community. Post-secondary education is core to the personality and prosperity of Waterloo Region. Our students make significant contributions to the community. It is true, however, that some also create unwelcome challenges. But not this week. The vast majority of students heard the call to put community first and to stay away from unsanctioned street gatherings.
I am very proud of all the students, regardless of which school they attend, who stepped up and put the health of the community ahead of a large party.
I encourage you to think deeply about this selfless and respectful act and to carry the experience with you for the rest of your stay in Waterloo and throughout your lives.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University
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