Leave it to Canadians to set the standard for kindness during a global pandemic. Caremongering, a word that didn’t exist a week ago, is now a movement spreading quickly across Canada.
All over the world, kind people have been looking out for members of their communities who have been negatively impacted by the virus. From American musicians streaming free concerts online, to exercise classes held for quarantined residents on their balconies in Spain, times of crisis can often bring out the goodwill in people.
In Canada, what started as a way to help vulnerable people in metropolitan cities has now become a widespread “caremongering” movement across the country.
Facebook groups have been set up in various cities, like Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, among others, with thousands of members between them. The acts of kindness are arranged online, with hashtags serving as a record of the good deeds happening across Canadian communities. The groups are described as places “for sharing and organizing community resources in response to COVID-19.”
The first group to begin “caremongering” was started by Mita Hans, a social services worker, with the help of Valentina Harper.
“Scaremongering is a big problem,” Hans told BBC News. “Caremongering has spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time – now more than ever.”
“We can’t focus on the negative,” Harper added. “The only way we can get out of this okay is by being kind to each other.”
HOPE FOR HUMANITY
The overwhelming number of Canadians joining the movement and starting local caremongering groups truly speaks to how much people want to be positive and hold onto hope.
“Anxiety, isolation, and lack of hope affects you. In providing this virtual community that allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven’t lost our hope,” Hans explained to BBC News.
On the Facebook groups, posts are split into two main hashtags – #iso (meaning, in search of), and #offer (where people offer their help or services). People can also use intersection hashtags such as #BloorDufferin, to indicate locations for stores that are open and have supplies.
Other topics that exist in the groups are discussions, news articles, and information regarding which stores are open.
The groups provide countless examples of good deeds, from a Halifax man in search of hand sanitizer to a group of Torontonians offering to cook meals for those who are unable. In a community on Prince Edward Island, a group of good samaritans gave grocery store gift cards to a woman who was laid off due to work closures caused by the virus. One of the most popular acts of kindness is to go to the supermarket or grocery store for those who cannot. Amid the panic in most major grocery stores, this one can be harder can it sounds.
Apart from the acts of kindness, the group also serves as a way for people to see goodwill in their communities. For those who do not need help or are unable to give it, the group is a way for community members to restore their faith in humanity and feel less alone.
One member told the BBC that the group’s ability to “offer emotional support, share information,” and “swap ideas of how to pass the time has been life-changing.”
HOW STUDENTS ARE HELPING
Outside of the groups, Canadian medicine students have been offering support to healthcare workers who find themselves working long hours with limited access to childcare.
The 8,000-member Canadian Federation of Medical Students has been doing whatever they can to help the healthcare workers who need it most. From babysitting children to household chores and grocery runs, to manning the phones at call centers, these students are setting a magnificent example while maintaining the rules of social distancing.
Valentina Harper told BBC News that she thought the groups truly said something about the unique way that Canadians care for each other.
“I think there is an international belief that Canada is a very polite country,” she said. “I think there is something Canadian about this because as our population is small as a country, there is a tendency to look out for each other, even if there are a few bad apples who buy all the toilet paper!”
Let’s hope this trend takes off around the rest of the world – kind hearts can certainly boost togetherness in a time of social isolation.
—By Raye Mocioiu