President Steenkamp's video message: Friday, April 24

April 24, 2020
Philip Steenkamp, PhD
President Steenkamp sitting on a couch in front of a black and white piece of art

Hello everyone,

This week, my heart goes out to the people of Nova Scotia and in particular to the families and friends of the more than 20 people who were murdered in a senseless act violence.

I know the entire Royal Roads community joins me in extending our condolences.

Many of those killed worked in professions that take care and protect our communities. They included an RCMP officer, a retired firefighter, someone who worked in a care home and a teacher.

This terrible tragedy has led me to reflect on one of the core values of our university — and that is the value of caring.

At Royal Roads, caring means creating a supportive community for all our students, faculty and staff. We live this value every day in what we say, in what we do, and in how we treat each other.

During this time of the COVID-19 emergency, caring takes on added importance. It’s easy to become despondent and to lose patience and become irritable with each other.

I urge you all to recommit to caring. Take care of yourselves, your families and friends and others in your community.

There are many ways to do this. Simple acts of kindness like reaching out to somebody who is isolated alone or running errands or doing chores for those who are not able to do so themselves — they go a long, long way.

By helping each other we help strengthen the networks that hold us together and we help build more resilient communities.

It’s also important of course that you take care of yourself.

The constant barrage of COVID-19 news and the huge disruption in our lives is really quite exhausting and emotionally draining.

I believe we need outlets. So, for me, I follow a routine. I try to get up at the pretty much same time every day, shower, get dressed as though I was going into work and then I sit down and face my day.

I also take time to make sure I get out for a bike ride or a walk at least every day. That is so important. 

The other thing I’ve been doing is I have been taking a break from the news, and that is really good for my emotional and mental health.

And I’ve been revisiting old books and I’ve been trying new recipes. All of this helps.

I’d urge you to take care of yourselves as well. And if you need to reach out, know that we have very good services at Royal Roads. Services to help people with challenges – counselling and mental health services for students, and faculty and staff.

I realize I am very fortunate. I have a job, a home and enough to eat.

For many people, COVID-19 has hit very hard. It has disproportionately affected people who were previously marginalized or vulnerable.

This provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the kind of world we would like to see once we are through this. And more importantly, what kind of contribution can we make towards achieving that particular vision.

As part of the business recovery process we are going through at the university, we’re asking ourselves the question, what role can the university play in creating a stronger, safer and more just world?

I would appreciate your ideas on this front.

Have a good weekend. Take care of yourselves.