Looking to the Northern Lights: Helping in an Uncertain Time
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MHSc in Translational Research

Pandemics such as the novel coronavirus outbreak can give rise to anxiety and uncertainty. But they can also fuel kindness. Making opportunities to help, groups have sprung up across the country to support their communities.
Project Northern Lights is one such group that is stepping up to set effective response efforts in motion at the grass-root level. Our student, Naomi, is at the forefront of this initiative. She shared her experience with us and elaborated on the need for providing both immediate responses, as well as solutions for long-term support.

Looking to the Northern Lights: Helping in an Uncertain Time

Naomi Zingman-Daniels | TRP | April 20, 2020
When you’re coming to the end of your Master’s degree, there’s a certain amount of uncertainty to be expected. Certainly, in the Translational Research Program, we’ve learned to deal with and thrive with uncertainty. That being said, in March, as I looked down the barrel of an unknown amount of self-isolation, delays to my capstone, and sickness for a large portion of my friends and family… this wasn’t something, I thought, that I knew how to deal with. This was something else.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of us in different ways. As many of my classmates and colleagues know, I thrive on doing and tend to keep myself busy with an assortment of hobbies, jobs, and adventures. With most placed on hold due to the pandemic, and with my friends on the frontlines, I knew I had to find something new to do. I had heard of groups working to expand community aid and fight the protective-equipment shortage, and I found my way into one of these groups, Project Northern Lights, soon after the pandemic started. I was able to use my project management, coordination, and organizational skills to find a niche within the group and quickly became an active member.
Project Northern Lights is a not-for-profit organization that I work with as a Board Member and Outreach Manager, focusing on helping utilize community resources and volunteers to help with identified problems stemming from the crisis. I mostly work with the PPE Project, where we have created an entire supply chain for creating and delivering protective equipment not only to hospitals but to marginalized populations in the community such as frontline workers, shelters, clinics, safe injection sites, hospices, youth centres, and long-term-care homes. To date, we’ve delivered over 1,400 pieces of equipment around the GTA and have plans for at minimum a few hundred more each week. We’ve partnered with a number of local and national organizations, and have facilitated the delivery of 4,000 additional pieces of protective equipment to the northern communities in Thunder Bay and Sudbury.
What makes me even prouder of our initiative is that it’s entirely volunteer-based. From shops, individuals, and even museums donating resources for us to make masks and shields, to the makers cutting, printing, sewing, sanitizing, assembling, and delivering the protective equipment, we have a community of hundreds of Canadian residents and citizens who understand that community coming together to protect the most vulnerable and overlooked is the best way to move forward, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved so far, and the people we can continue to help with this work.
If you are interested in learning more about what we do: Project Nothern Lights
If you work for a place that needs PPE, please reach out to: Requests form
If you’re interested in helping out, please fill out this form: Volunteer Registration 
If you are able to contribute to our GoFundMe so that we can continue supplying our makers and shipping to places and people in need: Project Nothern Lights GoFundMe