PEI

UPEI hosts Thanksgiving dinners for students unable to travel home

Some UPEI students who live on campus are getting ready for a long, quiet weekend after university officials advised students to stay on P.E.I. this Thanksgiving — or at least inside Atlantic Canada — to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

'Everyone is participating. Everyone is included. Everyone will have fun'

Chartwells at UPEI has decided to host a free Thanksgiving dinner on Monday for all students living in residence not going home for the holiday. (Brian Higgins/CBC News)

Some UPEI students who live on campus are getting ready for a long, quiet weekend after university officials advised students to stay on P.E.I. this Thanksgiving — or at least inside Atlantic Canada — to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We strongly encourage you to remain on P.E.I. or within the Atlantic bubble," reads the letter published online Wednesday, from UPEI associate vice-president Donna Sutton.

"Leaving the Atlantic region may increase your risk of infection and the risk of infecting others."

It's a message many students are heeding.

"Nobody wants to risk it," said residence life adviser Chloe Arlapen.

Thanksgiving dinner served... twice

Arlapen is among the 115 or so students who live on-campus this semester, many from overseas, who will be spending the weekend in UPEI residence buildings.

Special dinners served up this week in the dining hall are helping students fill the time.

A couple of hundred students attended a Thanksgiving dinner Thursday in the main residence dining hall.

'The people living outside the Atlantic bubble don't really want to go home because they'll have to quarantine for two weeks," says Chloe Arlapen. 'So most of them are staying here.' (CBC News)

Many of those students were gone from campus Friday. For those who remain, another Thanksgiving dinner will be served Monday. Organizers expect about 50 to 60 students will attend.

"Everyone is participating. Everyone is included. Everyone will have fun. That's the aim of it," said Arlapen.

'True Maritimers'

Throughout the weekend, and into reading week in the days that follow, residence life advisor Trey Cartwright will be checking up on fellow students to make sure things are going well.

"Just to make sure everyone feels solid, everyone's doing well mentally, emotionally, make sure they feel supported, loved. All that good stuff," said Cartwright.

'We'll put the football game on and we'll watch Friends and it'll be a real, you know, traditional thanksgiving,' says Laura O'Laney. (CBC News)

Residence staff say some students who live on campus will be spending time with local families this weekend, on Prince Edward Island and the mainland.

"The Maritimers have been true Maritimers and invited as many people as would fit in their cars to come home," said residence manager Laura O'Laney.

"I think there'll be some very packed houses this weekend in Atlantic Canada with people who brought friends home."

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Higgins

Videojournalist

Brian Higgins joined CBC Prince Edward Island in 2002, following work in broadcasting and print journalism in central Canada. He follows law courts and justice issues on P.E.I., among other assignments.

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