James Maskalyk is an emergency physician, associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and author of the forthcoming book Doctor: Heal Thyself. Dave Courchene is the founder of the Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness and chair of its National Knowledge Keepers’ Council.
If humanity is to endure, the coming months must hold healing, not just of populations across the globe from the coronavirus, but of the Earth herself. As is true of many zoonoses (diseases that jumped from animals), this virus emerged from pressure humans put on a global ecosystem.
A lack of healthy, natural habitat weakens the immune systems of animals and the resulting sicknesses pass rapidly through them. Birds, prairie dogs, pigs, bats. With each infection, a chance for a virus to mutate into one that can sicken humans, and sometimes, global livelihoods. As such, a vaccine alone, no matter how effective, will not tip the balance toward health because COVID-19 is not a disease; it is a symptom of an exhausted planet. The renewal of a healthy relationship to our one shared mother, planet Earth, is the cure.