Pandemic Stories – tales from Whitby, Oshawa and across the region wanted

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Published October 29, 2021 at 10:58 am

After 18 months of the pandemic, much of it under some form of lockdown, we have changed. The way we work has changed; the way we live has changed. And though we have all faced different struggle and triumphs, the community spirit in Durham Region remains strong.

Some people improved their cooking skills or learned a new language during the pandemic while others struggled badly, missing their family and friends. Many people were sent home to work during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis and discovered they enjoyed it, while others were out of work entirely and relied on CERB and other government programs to stay alive.

Some didn’t make it through at all – nearly 400, in fact – and some of us have stories of loved ones who succumbed to the virus. But what we all have in common is we all have a story to tell, and the Region of Durham wants to hear them.

“As we have all faced the same storm of the pandemic, everyone’s experience has been a little different. Some of us have faced major challenges such as losing a loved one to COVID-19, changes in employment status, or difficulty finding housing,” said Durham Regional Chair John Henry. “Some of us have learned new skills, embraced new technology to stay connected, and found new appreciation for the small joys in life. One thing for sure is that our collective experiences will shape our generation, and our region, for years to come.”

For Amanda H, the lockdown was a time for a new perspective and an opportunity to discover what was really important”

When the lockdown began in March of 2020, I was deemed non-essential and sent home to work. With the exception of dropping into the office to do the odd inspection or file paperwork, all other work was successfully completed from home. In fact, the workload was completed quicker with less distractions. For 6 months this was my new normal. My husband is retired so the two of us spent more than the usual amount of time together…and we are still happily married! After about 3 months, the previous thought of retirement jumped into my head again. Spending more time outside for breaks and becoming more active with my bicycle, made me decide that now is the time. Yes, the pandemic has been a very big inconvenience but I will look back on it as one of the key reasons for retiring and enjoying life more.

For NEBS99, the pandemic was a time of sacrifice for everyone, but she learned to appreciate the positive things in her life, from the beauty of nature to the importance of friendships:

Eight Thankful Pandemic Gifts

Looking back at the pandemic, I am thankful for many things. The pandemic brought out the worst in people and society, including separation in families, friendships. Racial, political and social injustices were magnified within the world and communities.

While I missed meeting friends, going out for lunches or dinners, what I especially missed was the sense of freedom of just going out whenever you wanted to, walking in the malls and browsing for that unique item, which you could gift to someone or use.

Rather than focusing on the negative, let me share eight things that the pandemic made me thankful for:

  • Front Line Workers: Our front-line workers deserve a medal for putting their lives on the line to serve us, whether it was our nurses, personal support workers, cashiers, sanitary engineers, agricultural workers, postal workers, delivery personnel and so many others. They kept society going, not the movie or sports heroes. Some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
  • Maintaining Relationships: All the relationships safely maintained, with distancing and masks with my sister, her family, in-laws, etc. where we had driveway, backyard and even side by side parking lot car visits, during lock downs.
  • Online shopping: I remember shaking while doing grocery shopping and avoided some grocery stores with narrow aisles. It was great when I was advised that I could do online grocery shopping. In the beginning, we had to stay up until midnight to get a time slot., and as stores pivoted, it became easier to find slots. I was appreciative of my online shoppers.
  • Being Outside in Nature: Walking in nature provided me with the ability to see the wildflowers, all the birds and to remember that there is still beauty in the world.
  • Plans are just Plans: My sister, I and our daughters planned to surprise my sister, living in America, travelling from Canada to celebrate a milestone birthday. With the borders closed, we realized that this would not happen the way we planned so we needed to pivot with a Zoom meeting. A friend at work once said, “there is always a solution to every problem, and we just need to find it.”
  • Trying New Recipes: Trying new recipes took our minds off the lockdowns and provided a method of sharing our culinary expertise with others. Some recipes were hits and others were misses. My daughter perfected her baking skills and decided not to attempt making macarons. I tried making some Jamaican dishes like fried dumplings. Carole, my family agreed, you still make the best fried dumplings.
  • Space: I was grateful to have the space, where my family of introverts, including myself could have our own hide-a-way spot. While we enjoyed meals together, we all needed our space to decompress.
  • Medicine: The government restricted pharmacies from providing the normal three- or six-month medication to a one-month supply. For individuals who need to take medicines to keep hypertension or other illnesses at bay, we were grateful for their availability, even in limited supplies.

You can get involved by sharing your own unique story, a photo, video or artwork; and connect with other members of the community to learn about their pandemic experiences. on a new, interactive platform: durham.ca/PandemicStories

This project aligns with Durham Region’s Recovery Framework and Action Plan; and supported by the Regional Recovery Task Force, which includes representatives from Lakeridge Health, the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and the not-for-profit sector.

Graphic by Desert Research Institute

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