About as close to hell on earth as one could ever imagine was Auschwitz. A final destination for countless innocent people, murdered for no reason other than their religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or mental capacity. Most people know that part of it… but here’s something perhaps you didn’t know…

Most of the people arriving there didn’t know the fate that awaited them; they thought they were being resettled, and this was just a temporary stop. That’s what they were told. And they were told they could bring with them up to 100lbs of personal belongings.

As you might imagine, if you had to move on to a whole new life and could take only 100lbs of stuff with you, what would it be? Jewellery, watches, furs… your best clothes. Tools, medications, things for kids. Tinned food for the journey, alcohol… as many things of value as you could within the allowable limit.

Many of those people were murdered within hours of their arrival. What happened to all that stuff?

It wound up in an increasingly-growing and well-organized storage complex which ultimately occupied more than 30 buildings and “employed” more than 2,000 prisoners to sort through the stuff. For the prisoners who managed to get this work detail, it was the dream job. While they were tasked with organizing the goods for distribution for use in not only the camp, but all of Germany, they also would secretly procure what they could for themselves and their friends and family.

And what was it called, this large storage facility… this place of abundance and food and opportunity, smack in the middle of hell? It was called Kanada. Indeed, for all of these people caught in hell, the Kanada warehouses were named after this abstract distant place where nobody had ever been, but they could only dream… of freedom and abundance and wealth and opportunity. One of the very few who escaped Auschwitz (and wrote the report that blew the whistle on the whole operation) was Rudy Vrba, who made his way to Canada. To Vancouver, in fact, where he wound up at UBC, a professor of pharmacology.

We here in Canda take for granted what all of those people only dreamed of. This ever-lasting abundance of wealth and opportunity… but, more fundamentally, food and drinkable water… the latter of which literally falls from the sky. Sometimes endlessly.

Which is why it’s weird for us when all of this stuff we take for granted isn’t readily available. What do you mean you’re out of toilet paper? What, you don’t have a single bottle of hand sanitizer back there somewhere? How can you be out of masks? Many of those questions from last year have been replaced with a single one: Where’s my vaccine?

It’s odd for us here in Canada to be feeling that mindset. For many people, their entire life is a struggle to procure those basic necessities… but never here. And what makes it more odd is seeing the rest of the world having access to something we want, and being unable to get it.

The “out” we have here is that we know it’s coming; just be a bit patient… and that’s certainly the way it’s always been in Canada. Not so much in Kanada… which is why, while I grumble when I read the news that forty-nine percent of Republican men don’t want the vaccine or that forty percent of the U.S. military were offered it and refused it… well, that really sucks. But we’re in Canada, so… eventually, it’ll be ok. We have the privilege of hanging in there a little longer, not something everyone, presently of historically, has had. So we’ll take it.