Marcie Callewaert poses for a selfie with her Shitzhu is Yoda.

Marcie Callewaert poses for a selfie with her Shitzhu is Yoda.

COVID-19: Stepping away from the ordinary

Freelance writer Marcie Callewaert talks about her self-isolation in Ahousaht

Marcie Callewaert

Special to the Westerly

I didn’t think writing about my experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic would be difficult. But as I sit here, starting over repeatedly, I realize that within the days I have been self-isolating, I have gone through every emotion in the books.

It’s been very difficult navigating this changing social climate – especially as a social and physical person who enjoys hugging friends. Suddenly, I feel very cut off from those around me. I have had to remind myself repeatedly that there are other ways to connect and make sure I am taking advantage of them. But it’s important to remember, every day that we step further away from the ordinary brings us closer to a return to normal.

I live in Ahousaht and our Chief and council made the decision to restrict the travel of non community members into the village relatively early.

This meant stopping contractors from coming in to work on key construction projects, but it was a necessary step. Because we are so isolated already, cutting off outside visitors immediately reduces the risk of the virus spreading to us. Housing is limited in the village and homes are crowded. The virus would spread quickly if it made its way here. I still worry immensely about our community members travelling to larger urban areas for supplies but we have to trust that everyone is taking as many precautions as possible and do all we can to protect ourselves in the meantime.

Even though self-isolation can create an “every man for thyself” mentality, Ahousaht has pulled together as a community.

Seafood deliveries have been shared at the dock often – fresh cod, salmon, crabs, hiishtuup (chiton) and tuutsup (sea urchin) – which is keeping villagers fed with traditional foods.

There have also been deliveries of other essential groceries and supplies to households in the village by our leadership. The Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and they are monitoring boats and passenger travel in and out of the village and co-ordinating the community response.

We’re all spending a lot more time on social media at the moment and one post I have seen circulating talks about how those with everyday anxiety struggles are handling COVID-19 crisis better than most due to their familiarity with general anxiety… except here’s the thing, I certainly am not!

In the initial days of self-isolation, the business closures, accepting a failed start to the tourist season, and wondering how we would survive financially, my anxiety was at the highest I have ever experienced. My heart was racing, hand tremors made it impossible to do anything with finesse, and I had headaches that kept me in bed. But once I recognized that my mental health was slipping, I began taking steps to take better care of myself and limit my time online or watching the news.

Even though we are being encouraged to stay home, and Facebook is full of memes about saving the world by staying on your couch, to me, self-isolation doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day. I haven’t turned on Netflix once.

We have several animals, so there is a lot of cuddling time with the dogs and cat, time spent with the bunnies and gathering them fresh green treats, and afternoon coffee with the chickens in the back yard. I am also making an effort to get into nature.

Putting our mental health first and how we do that is going to look different for everyone.

Being out in my garden wasn’t enough for me.

My depression episodes became more frequent and deeper and I soon realized I needed to be out on the ocean and beaches as well. As soon as I began thinking of Vitamin Sea as an official part of my mental health routine, things started to improve. I think as long as we are maintaining our physical distancing practices, time outside our own yards is a very good thing, when possible.

As we continue to face the uncertainty before us, how we come together as a community to support one another and our frontline workers in various industries, will determine how we come out the other side of this pandemic.

Continue to hold each other up and remember, this is only temporary.

READ: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

READ: Ahousaht First Nation closes community to non-residents

CoronavirusFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. ( photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Clockwise from top right, chamber executive director Jen Dart moderated a Zoom-based forum last week where Tofino’s mayoralty candidates J.J. Belanger, Andrea McQuade and Dan Law made their pitch to lead their community. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Tofino mayoralty candidates face off at forum

Town to elect new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read