Easter egg hunts will still go ahead in First Nations communities on the North Shore this year, although they won’t be as eggs-travagant as usual.
While the usual big gatherings are on pause, both Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations got innovative this spring to make sure everyone in their communities could still enjoy an Easter celebration in a pandemic-safe way.
On Saturday March 27, the Easter bunny will be busy hiding chocolate eggs outside the Squamish Nation’s Chief Joe Mathias Rec Centre for a number of Easter egg hunts, with strict COVID safety guidelines in place.
Instead of cancelling the annual Easter egg hunt altogether, Justine Sobell, CJMC’s recreation manager, said her team members Chelsea Murphy and Bianca Cameron came up with an egg-cellent plan to make sure kids could still have some fun.
This year the egg hunt will be split into four age group slots which parents can sign their children up for, explained Sobell.
She said each group of up to 12 kids, ranging from age groups from one to four up to 11 to 12, would get a basket and have an hour to hunt for eggs among the trees, grassy areas and gardens outside the rec centre, while social distancing and wearing masks.
While children will have the chance to find and indulge in chocolate eggs, some of the eggs will also be plastic with numbers inside that link to a prize table with toys that promote being active outdoors.
Keeping the community engaged with recreational activities they can take part in at home or in parks, instead of the rec centre, due to provincial health officer regulations, has been a big aim for the team over the past year, Sobell said.
“We still want our community members to know that we are thinking about them and we want them to continue to participate in recreation activities,” she said, adding it was exciting they could offer the staggered Easter egg hunt outside the centre due to slightly relaxed restrictions on outdoor gatherings.
“Our motto this whole year has been, it's not the same, but it's something, and if we can do something that's better than nothing.
“Being able to offer something, I think, will maybe inspire families to go out with their kids and do more fun things like this, it doesn't have to be an Easter egg hunt. Families can do little scavenger hunts around their backyard or go to a park or one of the local trails.”
Meanwhile, Tsleil-Waututh Nation community services staff members will be hopping around their communities handing out Easter goodie bags to all of the children 16 and under as well as arts and craft packs for an innovative Easter egg hunt ahead of April 4.
“We're going to be giving each household that wants to participate a large printout of an egg … to decorate and cut out and put in their windows in a visible spot, and then we’re going to have a contest where people go out and find the eggs in the windows,” Angela George, director of community development for Tsleil-Waututh Nation, said.
“We’ll give them some clues and map it out for them and then families or clusters of COVID safe groups will be able to go around finding the eggs in the windows of community homes and TWN buildings for an ‘innovative egg hunt’ with additional prizes.
“Although it's different, I think it'll be a lot of fun for the families.”
George said while the pandemic made it hard to organize activities, they still wanted to do something that would engage and involve the whole community while maintaining safety. “Many community members, especially elders, have been isolated,” she said. “Easter is very much a family time so we're encouraging people to participate in decorating the eggs and get out and take part.
“If elders have these eggs decorated in their windows, the children can come by and at least have a wave and, you know, a distanced hello.
“It's all a part of the plan to get people out, connecting, and engaging in innovative ways.”
With vaccinations now in full swing, both First Nations felt things were looking up heading into warmer weather.
“I think that people are feeling a little alleviated and a little more comfortable,” Sobell said. “With the weather getting better and Dr. Bonnie Henry's lift on the gathering of 10 outside, I think people are feeling optimistic."
Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News