From the Editors’ Desk

On behalf of the Editorial Board of Muses from the North, we would like to wish our readers an incredible year of 2021.
It is refreshing to note that the challenging year of 2020 has now been shelved in the annals of history. The COVID-19 pandemic, which hit every corner of the globe, did not spare our humble UCN community. The university authority at UCN was quick to introduce measures to curb the virus’ spread among students and staff. Chief among such measures was pivoting to the virtual environment for teaching and learning, which started in mid-March. Due to social-distancing measures also, our physical connection with student writers was heavily impeded. It is expedient to mention that UCN, as an institution of learning and research, has always been a front-runner in distance education due to the massive geographical space to which it caters. Hence, it was somewhat easier to adjust to the new normal. However, UCN was also not immune to the challenges of online studies, whether synchronous or asynchronous. There are problems of weak internet connections in remote areas, while some students did not have access to hardware, including personal computers, headsets, and a webcam to help facilitate learning. Before the lockdown measures went into effect, this group of students relied on the library to provide access to these devices. Additionally, students whose learning orientation favours in-person learning had difficulty adjusting to receiving instructions through a digital platform. Despite all these challenges, our resilient students have faired well. This special issue focuses on our students’ reflections on their learning and living during the pandemic. By taking a step back to reflect on the past year through their writings, it is fair to say that our students are setting the stage for a successful future in all facets of their lives.
In this COVID-19-themed issue, nine students contributed twelve articles. Each essay helps the reader to find hope and meaning from the disruptive events of 2020. The reflective essays attempt to respond to questions such as
· What challenges did I overcome?
· What opportunities came my way during the COVID-19 year?
· What new skills did I acquire?
· What did I enjoy most while taking education from home?
· What was the best decision that I made during the pandemic year of 2020?
· What significant changes occurred in my life?
· What should I be thankful for in the pandemic year?
· How did the pandemic change the brand name of local businesses?
One of our published student-writers in this issue is Excel Daniel, who migrated to Canada with his family from Nigeria. His goal is to study political science at the University of Manitoba. However, he is currently enrolled at UCN with the hope of transferring later to UofM in his second year. Excel, in his essay “COVID-19 and how It Impacted my Everyday Life,” reflects on the disappointments in his life occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kamryn Prokopow, like Excel, happened to graduate from high school at the peak of the pandemic. She was disappointed at losing the opportunity to show her glamour at the graduation ceremony. However, she took the best chance to present herself in a drive-through parade that was viewed by more people than she had expected. As she writes in “The Highs and Lows of Graduating During a Pandemic,” she states: “This, I believe, is the best approach if one wants to keep one’s sanity in a challenging time such as this.” One of Kelly Laybolt’s articles is a research paper, “The Commercial Relationship between the Local and the Global: Thompsonites’ Consumer Values,” based on his research on local consumers’ attitudes in the city of Thompson before and during COVID-19. Kelly’s second essay is “The Impact of COVID-19 on Global and Local Brands.” In the article “How COVID-19 Changed my Life,” Lanze Chevillard tells the story of how her international travel plans were interrupted by the pandemic. However, the disruption also offered her the opportunity to save money for school. Nicole McKenzie’s essay “COVID-19: Is This Really Happening?” is a reflection on the difficulties of pivoting to working from home, rather than the more established, traditional, in-person culture, no thanks to the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus. Sharon Garson, a mother of four, took advantage of the pandemic to study online. In her essay “COVID-19 Sent Me Back to School,” she reflects on her dilemma of returning to school after a 20-year hiatus, working and mothering. Sydney Bjorndalen enjoys the virtual lectures in her Introduction to Literature course. Her short essay for one of the assignments in the course, “Wilby as an Escapist in William Trevor’s ‘Folie à Deux’” demonstrates her understanding of the course content through online learning. Her essay with the title “Reflections on Online Learning during the Pandemic” informs the reader of the writer’s experience through online learning. Katlyn Nelson-Whitehead’s “COVID-19: Adjusting to the New Normal,” tells the reader about how quickly she has adapted to the new normal: keeping social distance, washing hands, and wearing a mask. Alexander Primrose’s “Reaching My Academic Goals During a Pandemic,” tells the reader about why he prefers UCN over other universities for online schooling. Alexander’s motivation for education is to become a school teacher in an Indigenous community.
This issue also sees us elevating Elizabeth Tritthart, to the position of student editor. Before her new role, Lyz worked on the team as the print copy designer; however, we are still crediting her with the design of this current issue. The design of this issue reflects the pandemic’s impact as expressed on the cover page: the grey and white as the scheme color, and the image of the winter background in which a slight gradient breaks up the monotony of a solid color. The image evokes the feeling of the loneliness of winter combined with the effects of COVID-19. Thanks to our president/vice-chancellor, Doug Lauvstad, for the contribution of the photo from his collection of images of the North and Nature.
Last but not least, we appreciate the UCN Seed Fund for providing the financial backing that kept this journal running for the past six issues. For this 7th issue and hopefully for many future issues to come, we wish to acknowledge the financial support from UCN’s Reconciliation, Research & Academic Innovation (RRAI), the Kenanow Faculty of Education (KFE), and the Faculty of Arts, Business and Science (FABS). We hope that our readers will find the offerings in this current issue intellectually stimulating, thought-provoking, and deeply insightful.

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