Be Safe, Be Calm, Be Kind
Bonnie Henry & Lynn Henry
Dr. Bonnie Henry has been called "one of the most effective public health figures in the world" by The New York Times. She has been called "a calming voice in a sea of coronavirus madness," and "our hero" in national newspapers. But in the waning days of 2019, when the first rumours of a strange respiratory ailment in Wuhan, China began to trickle into her office in British Colombia, these accolades lay in a barely imaginable future.
Only weeks later, the whole world would look back on the previous year with the kind of nostalgia usually reserved for the distant past. With a staggering suddenness, our livelihoods, our closest relationships, our habits and our homes had all been transformed.
In a moment when half-truths threatened to drown out the truth, when recklessness all too often exposed those around us to very real danger, and when it was difficult to tell paranoia from healthy respect for an invisible threat, Dr. Henry's transparency, humility, and humanity became a beacon for millions of Canadians.
And her trademark enjoinder to be kind, be calm, and be safe became words for us all to live by.
Coincidentally, Dr. Henry's sister, Lynn, arrived in BC for a long-planned visit on March 12, just as the virus revealed itself as a pandemic. For the four ensuing weeks, Lynn had rare insight into the whirlwind of Bonnie's daily life, with its moments of agony and gravity as well as its occasional episodes of levity and grace. Both a global story and a family story, Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe combines Lynn's observations and knowledge of Bonnie's personal and professional background with Bonnie's recollections of how and why decisions were made, to tell in a vivid way the dramatic tale of the four weeks that changed all our lives.
Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe is about communication, leadership, and public trust; about the balance between politics and policy; and, at heart, about what and who we value, as individuals and a society.
The authors' advance from the publisher will be donated to charities with a focus on alleviating communities hit particularly hard by the pandemic: True North Aid with its Covid-19 response in Northern Indigenous communities, and First Book Canada, with its focus on reading and literacy for underserved, marginalized youth. (From Allen Lane)
Dr. Bonnie Henry is an epidemiologist, or microbe hunter, and is currently the provincial health officer for British Columbia. She is also the author of the 2009 book Soap and Water & Common Sense.
Lynn Henry is the publishing director of Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe is being published by Allen Lane, also an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada.
- 53 works of Canadian nonfiction coming out in spring 2021
- Read an excerpt and see the cover of Dr. Bonnie Henry's new book Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe