Saskatchewan

Groups providing help hands to those in isolation pop up in Sask. amid COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic grows, aid groups are popping up to help those in Saskatchewan who may need groceries, medication or just plain old social interaction.

Groups in Saskatoon and Regina help people needing groceries, medication or social interaction

Kale MacLellan (left), seen here with her partner Avery and their son Alex, founded Mutual-Aid Treaty 4 to offer help to people in need during the isolation period that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic. (Supplied by Kale MacLellan )

As the COVID-19 pandemic grows, aid groups are popping up in Saskatchewan to help those who may need groceries, medication or just plain old social interaction.

Kale MacLellan says the group she started to help others is also helping her manage her own mental health.

MacLellan, a student at the University of Regina, started Mutual-Aid Treaty 4 on Monday. As of Wednesday afternoon, the group had nearly 300 members.

"It's really, really easy to feel so overwhelmed by all of this," MacLellan said. "Being able to really immerse myself in connecting people and seeing other people help each other has helped me so much."

MacLellan deals with anxiety. With her classes at the university cancelled, she is in isolation at home with her six-year-old son for the time being, something she said makes it easy to get caught up in the worry.  She said her son understands what the virus is but hasn't quite grasped why they can't go out and hang with friends.

"Feeling like I'm helping right now has actually just helped me personally feel like I've got something to focus on, I don't need to be thinking about everything that's on the news and on my newsfeed on Facebook," she said.

The group hasn't had a lot of calls for help, MacLellan said, but there have been plenty of people offering their help or sharing information.

'I just wanted to make myself useful'

Up in Saskatoon, similar groups are forming.

A group of law students formed a help group on Facebook called YXE Community Response COVID-19. Will Hampton, one of the students helping out, said he knows immuno-compromised people in his life so the virus has been on his mind for some time.

"I just wanted to make myself useful because I know that we need people who are able to organize and able to take action during this time," he said.

The group has a web order form on Facebook as well as a phone line they've set up. 

Hampton said the thing they need the most help with is driving and delivery at the moment, but that other places in the city need help too.

"I know Kids Help Phone needs people to help volunteer there," Hampton said.

Hampton is hoping to partner with other organizations that specifically help seniors and vulnerable people, as that's their focus right now. 

MacLellan said her Regina group is also becoming a place of community action. They've started a petition asking the rentalsman to ban evictions in Saskatchewan and she wants to do more of that work in the future.

"Now is definitely a time for us to be looking at the root causes of these problems and how we are failing our fellow community members, and how in turn that affects us as a society," she said.

"We have a chance right now to … be working together to make tomorrow or when this ends a more equitable and better community for everyone."

About the Author

Emily Pasiuk

Reporter/Associate Producer

Emily Pasiuk is a Regina-based reporter for CBC Saskatchewan and an associate producer for The Morning Edition. She has filmed two documentaries, reported at CTV Saskatoon and written for Global Regina. Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.

with files from CBC Radio’s The Afternoon Edition

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