York Region residents wait in line for a COVID-19 vaccination at a mass vaccination site for residents 80 years and older, in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

York Region residents wait in line for a COVID-19 vaccination at a mass vaccination site for residents 80 years and older, in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

The moment everything changed: Canadians remember when reality of COVID-19 set in

Many people felt uprooted and confused as the ‘new normal’ set in

One year after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the Canadian Press asked people to share their memories of when they realized the crisis was about to change everything.

What a mother’s love can’t fix

Liz Rivard says her daughter planned to ring in her 29th birthday on March 13, 2020 with a weekend’s worth of celebrations.

Then, one after the next, every event Delaney Rivard had planned was cancelled.

Rivard said her daughter, who has autism, needs structure to help get her through her day.

The Calgary retiree cried for the first time in recent memory when that structure was erased.

“Moms are always supposed to be able to fix everything,” she said. “And there was nothing I could do.”

Rivard said she’s since been impressed by how community groups have shifted online to give her daughter activities to look forward to.

She said Delaney Rivard is ringing in her 30th birthday this week with a princess party on her driveway.

Empty aisles

For Jessica Alexanderson, a trip to the grocery store used to feel like an excursion, not an errand.

The 40-year-old social service worker in London, Ont., would take her time browsing through the aisles.

But once the pandemic took hold, Alexanderson said she was taken aback to find many of the shelves suddenly bare, a sight that reminded her of the shortages in her home country of Mexico.

“It’s not a thing that you see here,” said Alexanderson. “I told my husband that it felt like those disaster movies.”

Since then, grocery shopping has become a stressful chore.

As she looks to become a permanent resident of Canada, Alexanderson said she has to be extra cautious about COVID-19 so she can continue working at an addiction treatment centre.

“We don’t have a safety net,” she said. “If you get sick, there’s no one here for you.”

A shutdown in the city that never sleeps

Stephen Shirt felt apprehensive about travelling from Calgary to New York City in early March last year.

But at the time, there were only a few hundred COVID-19 cases in the city, so he decided to go forward with the trip.

While sightseeing, Shirt got word that New York had declared a state of emergency as people started lining up outside of stores to panic shop.

“It’s kind of a traumatic experience, being away from home and having the world change,” said Shirt, 36. “I was away from home and away from my support.”

After scrambling to board a flight back home, Shirt said he served a 26-day quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, with some symptoms lingering until August.

“I wish I would have listened to my intuition and cancelled the trip.”

READ MORE: B.C. relaxes outdoor gathering rules, allows kids to have playdates

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Most Read