One year into the pandemic, Islanders share how their priorities have shifted

·5 min read
Sam Kingston of Charlottetown poses in front of his big rig parked at a truck stop in Aulac, N.B., earlier this week. Kingston put aside his entrepreneurial ambitions when the pandemic hit.  (Submitted by Sam Kingston - image credit)
Sam Kingston of Charlottetown poses in front of his big rig parked at a truck stop in Aulac, N.B., earlier this week. Kingston put aside his entrepreneurial ambitions when the pandemic hit. (Submitted by Sam Kingston - image credit)

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, have you made it a priority to be more patient and kind, as Dr. Heather Morrison asks at the end of every COVID-19 news briefing?

Maybe you've hunkered down at home and made self-care more of a priority. Or perhaps you've decided to make more time for elderly or vulnerable neighbours who might need help.

The life-threatening, isolating pandemic led many people to re-evaluate their priorities.

CBC asked Islanders how their priorities have shifted over this last dramatic year of the pandemic, via our Facebook page.

(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)

Charley Burke of Mount Stewart, P.E.I., said she made growing her family a priority during the pandemic.

"I had my first child at the beginning of the pandemic and had to do it alone because of hospital restrictions, and now exactly a year later I'm having my second. Two pandemic babies," Burke said.

Charley Burke sent in this photo of her baby, who is her priority these days.
Charley Burke sent in this photo of her baby, who is her priority these days. (Submitted by Charley Burke)

Developing closer relationships with family and friends was a common theme for commenters.

"I have realized just how important my family is, how much I love our crazy loud family gatherings," said Lisa Dawn Shields of Kensington.

"Family is priority No. 1 and that's why my parents are now moving to P.E.I. to be with us," wrote Annisha Rousseaux-Bridle of Summerside. "The separation has been way to much for my family and I."

The pandemic taught us to prioritize our own and our country's resourcefulness and ability to take care of itself and its own. — Ruth Hogan Donovan

Some Islanders expressed they had become more self-aware.

"I appreciate my life a lot more, and the family that I can see still," said Kathy Gallant of Summerside. "I will make it up to other family later after this settles and look forward to it, but for now I keep a small circle and thankful for what I have."

"Self-awareness and self-care with myself, family and friends and that materialistic items are NOT important; family and friends are," wrote Paula Lenentine.

"I think most people didn't/don't realize how much they needed to take a pause," said Shirley Gallant.

'Start prioritizing our people, talents and abilities'

Linda A of O'Leary says she has really prioritized when, where and for what she shops.

"Customer service is a big deal. I think now more than ever as we have such limited contact with each other — when those contacts are negative they can cost a business, and when they are positive, those business ensure their own future success," she said.

Some Islanders say they have shifted their spending priorities closer to home.
Some Islanders say they have shifted their spending priorities closer to home. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"When this COVID is no longer threatening out health and freedoms and we are again able to return to some semblance of 'normal,' I will absolutely cater to those business that have been mindful and who value their customers." She then gave a shout-out to her mechanic for treating customers well.

Ruth Hogan Donovan, who is from Morell but now lives in Montreal, said she also made shopping locally a big priority — something she believes Canadians have lost under the global economy.

"The pandemic taught us to prioritize our own and our country's resourcefulness and ability to take care of itself and its own," she said. "We've become sloppy and lazy over last quarter century, relying too much on other countries to make our lives easier, everything at our fingertips. Pandemic taught us and our country we need to start relying on ourselves, start helping ourselves more, start prioritizing our people, talents and abilities within our own borders."

The pandemic dealt a blow to many businesses around the world. Some people were thrown out of work, and had to hustle to find new work or even a new career. Scrambling to put food on the table can definitely change priorities quickly.

"I was all set to start a business making electric skateboards. Got some good investors and I was a resident at the Startup Zone, but COVID hit and sunk the dream," posted Sam Kingston of Charlottetown.

"So it goes. I drive a long-haul truck now," Kingston said, adding, "Truck driving really suits me to be honest." Kingston hopes to revisit the entrepreneurial venture in the future.

Fear factor

"I feel that almost everyone's priorities have changed and not changed at the same time," observes Anne Carroll Williams of Cardigan.

Reminders are everywhere to stay apart to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
Reminders are everywhere to stay apart to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

"I have noticed a transition from the friendly Islander smiles to looks of concern in the eyes of folks when they meet others ... Now, instead of saying 'have a good day,' most folks say 'be safe' when we part company. The basic concern and caring for others is still, as always, most important. But with the pandemic, Islanders are expressing that care and concern in new sometimes lonelier ways."

Laura K. Bird says the pandemic showed how quickly large numbers of people could make a change like working from home. She said she is now more hopeful in the possibility of rapid change, for instance in the way Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements for BIPOC voices in North America "smashed open existing biases" over the last year.

She said she has now made it a priority "to be more vocal and a stronger advocate for change to happen at a faster pace for social justice issues."

More from CBC P.E.I.