The pandemic has shone a light on the systemic and structural oppression of vulnerable populations, says the University of Toronto’s Kimberley Tull.
“There's been so much revealed,” says Tull, the director of community and learning partnerships and access pathways at U of T Scarborough. “Who has and hasn't. Who can and can't be safe. Who can breathe and who cannot. What does it mean to be vulnerable? What does it mean to be on the margins?”
In episode 13 of The New Normal podcast with Maydianne Andrade, guest host Tull talks about the challenges facing vulnerable populations with Janet Mason, assistant professor, teaching stream, at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Justin Rhoden, a third-year student at U of T Scarborough.
“Toronto used to be a city where people who were well-off lived a block or whatever away from people who worked. It used to be a very integrated city,” Mason says. But these days, she says, poverty and a lack of access to social supports and services are increasingly concentrated in particular neighbourhoods – and the pandemic has highlighted that divide.
“You constantly hear this discourse of ‘We're all in this together,’” says Rhoden. “I don't know who ‘we’ and ‘all’ is, but we're definitely not all in this together, you know?”
At the same time, he says he has hope that people will take this moment to reflect on how to build a better future.
“There is hope in the fact that people will mobilize, that people will organize,” Rhoden says. “I also find hope within communities – local and global communities.”
It’s important that society doesn’t simply “go back to normal” once the pandemic ends, Tull says.
“The new normal needs for us as a society to own these inequities and be accountable to each other and how we care for one another and how we collectively dismantle the systems and structures that support and enable these oppressions.”
The New Normal is created in collaboration with a University of Toronto Communications team led by Lisa Lightbourn. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify or listen on SoundCloud. You can also find it on Apple or listen on Google.