PEI

Why P.E.I.'s archivists are asking Islanders to share their COVID-19 stories

The Public Archives and Records Office in Charlottetown is asking Islanders to share their COVID-19 stories with the aim of preserving and documenting what is likely to be remembered as a challenging moment in history.

'We're basically the memory keepers of the province'

The province's Public Archives and Records Office is looking for Islanders to share their COVID-19 stories and pictures, like this one of a hand-painted sign in front of a Charlottetown apartment building. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

The Public Archives and Records Office in Charlottetown is asking Islanders to share their COVID-19 stories with the aim of preserving and documenting what is likely to be remembered as a challenging moment in history.

Through the COVID-19 project, archivists are encouraging people to help them in compiling a record of Islanders' pandemic experiences, from the difficult memories, to the ones that have offered hope. They want it all — photographs, messages and even journal entries. 

"We're basically the memory keepers of the province," said Jill MacMicken-Wilson, an archivist at the records office.

"We would like to capture all of those experiences that Islanders are going through at this point in time." 

We wanted Islanders to know that the experiences they are going through are important.— Jill MacMicken-Wilson, provincial archivist 

MacMicken-Wilson said similar projects are in the works across Canada and the world. 

A unique opportunity 

"Right now we are living in a period of time where 75 years from now, people are going to be looking back and they're going to say, 'Do you remember when there was that COVID-19 global crisis?'"

The letters, diaries and stories from history's important moments like the First and Second World Wars are often the things that researchers and historians use for their work.

Provincial archivist Jill MacMicken-Wilson is hoping Islanders will share their COVID-19 stories. (Brendan Elliott/CBC)

"Can you imagine someone who is a child today, you know, 50 years from now sitting down with their children and describing how they drove around in the van to count teddy bears in people's windows as a way to help pass the time?" 

MacMicken-Wilson said Islanders have the unique opportunity to help researchers gather and document COVID-19 as it is happening. 

How to participate

"We wanted Islanders to know that the experiences they are going through are important. That there is value in preserving them for the future." 

Islanders interested in taking part can send an email to archives@gov.pe.ca, including their name, contact information and COVID-19 stories. People can also send hard copies of their stories to the archive's physical address. 

'Can you imagine someone who is a child today, you know, 50 years from now sitting down with their children and describing how they drove around in the van to count teddy bears in people's windows as a way to help pass the time?' MacMicken-Wilson asked. (Brenda Doyle)

Archive staff will contact those who submit their material should they need more information. 

MacMicken-Wilson also mentioned there are online exhibits and genealogical resources available for Islanders to use on the organization's website as they practise physical distancing or self-isolation.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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