How Quebecers are coming together despite social distancing measures
Neighbours have been offering to help at-risk people with groceries and supplies
Amid social distancing measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, communities are coming together to lend a helping hand to a neighbour in need.
Some of the offers are small — a note posted to the entrance of an apartment building — and some are bigger — like Facebook groups that garnered thousands of users within hours to organize picking up groceries or medications for those most at-risk.
Multiple Facebook groups already exist and more are being formed. One, MTL COVID-19 Mutual Aid Mobilisation d'entraide, has garnered more than 5,000 members.
When the Quebec government announced public schools would be closed for two weeks, almost immediately a group of high school and Cegep students offered their babysitting services on social media.
Taowa Munene-Tardif, a former student at Montreal's FACE high school, started the group called MTL Babysitting on Thursday evening with a group of 10 friends.
"We foresaw there'd be a need for a babysitting service for people who unfortunately have to work, but don't really have anywhere else for their kids to go," Munene-Tardif said.
"We decided that we'd want to have a pay-what-you-can, or a volunteer babysitting service for people in that situation."
He said by Friday they'd already received too many requests for their availability, but wanted to encourage others to start similar initiatives.
In seemingly every Montreal neighbourhood, there now exists a Facebook group connecting volunteers with residents who are most at-risk.
Astrid Arumae has been working to create a non-profit in Outremont to do just that.
She incorporated the group last week as the Outremont COVID-19 Help Foundation and is working on setting up infrastructures like a bank account to be able to manage grocery bills and accept donations.
Arumae, 39, says the group is also working with the local seniors' association to get the word out to the 3,000 or so people aged 70 and over living in Outremont.
"To me, it's just common sense because I am young and fit, and able, and there are people that are not," Arumae said.
The government has recommended that people aged 70 and over refrain from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary.
And then, there are the small acts that can go a long way by inspiring others.
Sophie Brunelle-Newman, a 21-year-old McGill student, posted a note to the entrance of her apartment building, offering to buy groceries to any of her senior neighbours who may be in isolation.
Proud of our daughter Sophie.. who put this note up in her apartment building in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Montreal?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Montreal</a> this afternoon after <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Quebec?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Quebec</a> declared a public health emergency and asked anyone aged 70 and over to stay home if at all possible. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayHome?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StayHome</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isolation?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Isolation</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Takecareofeachother?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Takecareofeachother</a> <a href="https://t.co/p1VlOD0cUj">pic.twitter.com/p1VlOD0cUj</a>—@BigMedicine
She said she decided to write the note after watching one of the news conferences held by Quebec Premier François Legault and public health officials.
"I just thought of all the people who don't have family, who are stuck at home, and maybe don't have the resources to be able to order groceries online or get any of the stuff they need," said Brunelle-Newman.