Santee Smith - Chancellor


March 26, 2020

She:kon kowa / Greetings McMaster Family,

Our academic year and plans have radically shifted but the learning carries on. COVID-19 is teaching us to pause and re-focus on our wellbeing. It is full force schooling us about our interconnectivity and interdependence. COVID-19 is demonstrating how our physical, mental, spiritual, and social health are intricately interwoven. It is educating us to be humble to the immensity of the natural world and law, as Nature is our greatest instructor.

Our lives are changed, COVID-19 is instructing us to be flexible and present. The global health crisis is reaffirming our responsibilities to care for self, family and community. It’s causing us to become increasingly aware of our space and environment and the small impacts we can make for the greater good. It is an impetus to feed our creativity and not our fears. It is opening a window for us to reflect, to be mindful and maintain calm in the face of adversity.

Yorihowá:nen skén:nen ayakwanonhtónyonhwe tsi nikahá:wi / during this time of uncertainty it is important to cultivate a peaceful mind. Welcome this time. Self-isolation or distancing is not a sentence but an essential step for healing. Like ritual seclusion the act of quiet observation and introspection can lead to incredible breakthroughs and stimulate the imagination. It also allows time to reconnect with healthy habits including diet, exercise, and story-telling.

COVID-19 does not discriminate. As much as we are all in this together, we are more poignantly aware of the vulnerable people within our community, systemic inequalities as well as the value of frontline health and essential workers.

Today, we cannot unite physically, but we can unite our intentions of gratitude, love, optimism, in an effort to bring our minds together as one: working in collectively healthy ways, for the solidarity and strength of all people. Together, we can put into practice how to be compassionate / atenitenníhtshera ayakwahawí:seke; to reflect on wellbeing / ayakwata’karitéhake; to be healthy in spirit / ayakwa’nikonhriyóhake.

It is natural to feel scared, anxious, alone or depressed and McMaster has sites to help you navigate through and build your resiliency. Reach out to the following:

McMaster’s dedicated webpage to COVID-19 information and resources

Employee and Family Assistance Program

Student Assistance Program

Student Wellness Centre

Nia:wen kowa to the McMaster faculty, staff, researchers and students and community for your responsiveness in addressing the health and safety of the University. Let us continue to move forward in kindness and patience during this unprecedented time.

Tesatáthsnye’n / Take care of yourself.

Peace and health be with you,

Chancellor Smith