Toronto

Front-line heroes: Meet the people fighting COVID-19 in Toronto and share your stories

CBC Toronto wants to recognize workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we're asking you to send us your stories of the GTA's 'Front-line heroes.'

Dr. Gray Moonen launched a photo series recognizing his colleagues to boost morale

Dr. Gray Moonen recently posted pictures of hospital staff, such as a pharmacist, a barista and a construction worker, to boost recognition of front-line workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Dr. Gray Moonen)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to squeeze Ontario's health system, Dr. Gray Moonen has watched proudly as his colleagues have risen to the occasion — but at the same time, he's seen their morale fall.

The family medicine resident at the University of Toronto says over the last month, he feels those on the front line of the crisis haven't been getting nearly as much recognition as they deserved.

So he decided to try to change that.

"Working through this pandemic has honestly been surreal. People are anxious, health-care providers, the public, friends, family, patients," Moonen told CBC Toronto. "I wanted to bring a certain level of humanity to this crisis."

Moonen began to document the faces and stories of people working in the University Health Network, posting them to his Twitter page. 

Inspired by Moonen's effort, CBC Toronto wants to recognize workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we're asking you to send us your stories of the GTA's 'Front-line heroes.'

Dr. Moonen contacted CBC Toronto to help spread his message even more widely. 

To honour as many front-line staff as possible, we're following Dr. Moonen's lead and recognizing the GTA's "Front-line Heroes." Whether it's a nurse, a grocery store clerk or a waste collector — we want to hear your stories.

If you'd like to tell us about your "Front-line Hero," write to us explaining why they're a hero to you, or send a selfie-style video to torontotips@cbc.ca. Be sure to include a few photos of the person. 

We'll continue introducing you to new faces, just like Moonen has been doing on his Twitter feed.

WATCH: Dr. Gray Moonen speaks about who is inspiring him as health-care workers continue to tackle COVID-19.

Dr. Gray Moonen describes why he wanted to share photos of his colleagues on Twitter amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:32

Front-line hero: Dr. Gray Moonen

Dr. Moonen — on top of finding ways to support his colleagues — is working at the University Health Network to combat COVID-19.

As the pandemic progresses, he says he and his colleagues are being redistributed toward areas of higher need, such as the emergency department, the intensive care unit or COVID-19 clinics.

Although it might sound crazy, he says, there's no place he'd rather be.

"We feel a strong sense of purpose being at work … We really feel an obligation to help people, and to be honest, at the end of the day, this is what we signed-up for. To be able to provide care to my fellow Canadians and human-beings is, in this sort of situation, a privilege if anything."

To keep the recognition going, Dr. Moonen shared a story of someone on the front line who's inspired him: Dr. Jane Philpott.

"I've never met her personally, but she's a family physician and former Canadian health minister."

"She's currently back working on the front lines, helping out, working in the clinics. And she's been a huge advocate for communicating what should go on and what the appropriate response from the government should be … she's the sort of person that does the right thing and does not apologize for it, so thanks Dr. Philpott."

To share your own story, you can also tag us on Twitter @CBCToronto, Instagram @CBCToronto or send us a message on Facebook. 

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