Saskatchewan. people celebrate silver linings, look forward as province celebrates 2 years of COVID-19

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Some people in Saskatchewan are thrilled to have the chance to expand their experiences of adventure and connection for the first time since the pandemic began.

It has been two years since the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Saskatchewan on March 12, 2020. Although the provincial government has abandoned all public health measures, the pandemic is not over.

But vaccines have been widely available for months, and the risk to fully vaccinated people is low. This means more people feel comfortable engaging in activities they have refrained from doing or been prevented from doing during the pandemic.

Sonali Currie is looking forward to meeting new people after facing immense isolation.

“One thing I look forward to is lots of coffees and greetings. … having these networks, having these professional connections, even personally meeting friends,” she said, noting that she was also excited about group fitness classes.

“I feel very happy after an in-person Zumba class, so nothing can beat that.”

Currie said she would cherish these daily experiences. She moved to Regina from Kolkata, India, aiming to earn a master’s degree at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy in 2019. She had just started connecting with other people when the pandemic hit. She lost her job, classes moved online, and extracurricular activities ceased.

Currie worried about his finances and his family back home. She was all alone.

“I was questioning my decision to be here, away from home where I was so familiar and knew people.”

Downtown Regina was empty for the first few weeks of the pandemic in Saskatchewan. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

She didn’t give up, and now Currie feels mentally stronger and is finishing her final semester. Before starting her job search, she wants to travel.

“That is, of course, another element that I look forward to, whether in the province or across Canada.”

She is not alone in wanting to hit the road.

life on the road

Megan Nash used to play more than 100 live shows a year in pre-pandemic times, but that lifestyle became impossible as gathering was deemed unsafe. Instead of living on the road, they were forced to live at home – a difficult transition for the artist.

“Not only do I miss the audience and the encounters, but I also love the live shows. They remind me of all the good things in the world,” they said. “That energy in a room. It’s just incomparable. You can’t replace that with a digital setup.”

Megan Nash said they would take precautions to ensure the tour is as safe as possible given that COVID-19 transmission is still present in the community, but they are happy to play live broadcasts again. (Shoot with scratches)

They noted that most artists were stricter than provincial policy, so they did not perform live even though they technically could have. Nash has adapted by hosting online songwriting workshops, playing drive-in shows and attending virtual events.

They appreciated the chance to spend more time with their senior dog, Shiloh, but it wasn’t the same.

Now Nash is gearing up for a multi-province tour. They look forward to the big moments on stage, but also the little ones along the way.

“I miss being in a van with friends. I love having one-on-ones, and that’s where the real one-on-ones can happen.”

While Nash is excited to go on tour, a sense of hesitation remains.

“[It’s] find that balance between doing what you really love and losing yourself in that moment, while being hyper aware that we are still in a pandemic and we still have to protect ourselves and each other, ”said Nash , noting that the group has upgraded their masks and some shows will be outdoors.

While the world seems particularly heavy, Nash hopes people can find some respite in each set and some solace in each other.

“As we move on and continue to live with this pandemic, if we can just keep our hearts open and our minds open and think about our communities, we will get through this.”

Megan Nash is thrilled to be back on tour after the pandemic forced them and their bandmates off the road. (Natalie Lahoda)

The customer connection

Julianna Tan eagerly awaits connections found in fleeting interactions with strangers who wander through her shop. Isolation, distancing and advice not to congregate took their toll on Tan.

“It’s like you can connect with someone again,” the entrepreneur said.

Tan is co-owner of two small businesses in Saskatoon and said more people are now more comfortable congregating in the store.

“It’s so good to connect with people and be around people and see them talking and smiling and having a conversation.”

Julianna Tan said that now that more people feel comfortable going out, she is looking forward to reconnecting with people who come into her brick and mortar business. (Jae Kim)

While many small businesses have hunkered down under the brunt of the pandemic, Tan said his business has been fortunate to thrive. She and a business partner opened the Little Market Box in Saskatoon in late 2019.

The business is like a farmer’s market selling local Saskatchewan produce. There is a storefront, but they also opened with a robust online ordering system. When other companies struggled to go digital, they were ready.

“As soon as the pandemic hit, virtually overnight, hundreds of people went online to start shopping on our platform because we offered delivery and it was accessible to people.”

Tan said the pandemic has affirmed their focus on connecting others with local products, especially as more people prioritize local amid supply chain concerns.

She noted that she could not forget the “sorrow and grief” of the pandemic, adding that many people still prefer to shop online or with masks on. She and her colleagues demand kindness and try to meet people where they are.

Tan said she was starting to dream of what it would be like to run the store after the pandemic. She looks forward to the new challenges that are sure to arise – whenever that day comes.

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