What does service mean to you?

Date: May 11, 2021

Author: Melanie Bidiuk

In our tiny little abode, after putting in a long work from home day, I realized I had barely seen my 13 year old all day. It seems like we are all heads down in our virtual work so much of the time. In our little work spaces, together, but separate. So after our work was done and several days of rain, I decided we needed to get out and about (safely) in our community for a reality check. So, off we went for a 2 hour, misty bike ride down trails and country roads in our community. This is what we saw! Our new rural transit bus: The Link. Connecting our little hamlet to Lakefield, Peterborough, Bridgenorth and beyond! It feels so good to be part of that project connecting isolated communities to school, medical services, jobs and all around opportunity.

I designed the logo, bus passes, bus wrap, bus shelter signage, bus stops and branding for The Link Rural Bus service. While that isn't much in comparison to intensive planning that went into this project with partner municipalities, it really does feel special to be part of a solution bigger than myself! There have been many days pre-pandemic where I would be rushing around, driving in circles from home to work, work to school, school to after school activities and appointments and then back home again. I would leave home before the sun was up and return home after it had set. What a circus it was, when I look back. But what really resonates in my mind and heart, is the many times I would see and often stop to pick up someone (usually an Indigenous woman or youth) trying to hitch a ride to town or vice versa to accomplish the many things she needed to get done in her day, but without the privilege or access to safe transportation. One woman in particular stands out in my mind: a woman who taught my littlest at our community day care. On occasion I would pick her up from the side of the road, standing in the rain or snow hoping to get to town, sometimes in the day, sometimes at night.

COVID has had a big impact on the roll out of The Link. A whole year of funding complicated by the Pandemic, with only a limited funding term. The project planning wrapped up just as the Pandemic was gearing up and so the launch was delayed until now. I don’t know how long this project will last, how long the funding will remain, whether it will be renewed or deemed cost effective. But I do know this. If only one woman, like my child's care giver can rely on this service to make her day easier, her needs met, her opportunities bigger, her life safer, than it is all worth it! My little bike ride with my daughter started out as just a quick ride, but became a two hour adventure all over town as we followed the bus stop signs to see where they led. My daughter, who has a severe disability, was so excited to see a bus in our little town. To her it meant possibility. Connectivity. Safety. Accessibility. Community. Opportunity. She just had to see where it went! It also took the obscure, invisible work that I do and made it real in a big way. This is how I measure service and the worth of work we all do. How it improves the lives of others in rural Ontario: from all walks of life, ability, heritage and cultural identity. And I see this impact in the work of all of us. It’s why we go the extra mile, put in the long hours and devote so much of ourselves to our work. Because it matters!

Photo of the Link Rural Transit Bus in Curve Lake First Nation.Park road in Curve Lake First Nation.The Link rural bus outside the Curve Lake First Nation Business Centre.Rural Trail in Curve Lake First Nation.Lakeside trail in Curve Lake First Nation.

Rural trail in Curve Lake First NationThe Link Rural Bus Stop.The Link rural bus service stopped at the Curve Lake Business Centre.