Saskatchewan

Saskatchewanderer shifts to wandering the province virtually

The Saskatchewanderer would usually be wandering around the province right now, learning, seeing, doing and telling stories about it for the provincial government. That's not possible during the coronavirus pandemic, so now she's innovating.

Leah Mertz says she has tried local foods, an online yoga class and hopes to still do interviews

Saskatchewanderer Leah Mertz is trying local foods via takeout as she 'wanders', but from the safety of her own home. (Submitted by Leah Mertz)

What happens when the Saskatchewanderer is not able to wander? She innovates and starts wandering from her own home — virtually. 

Leah Mertz is the 2020 Saskatchewanderer. She was hired for the 10th anniversary of the provincial program that sees someone wander the province and tell stories about places to visit, things to do and sights to see. 

Mertz's job changed when the coronavirus pandemic came to Saskatchewan. The first big change was the Junos being cancelled, she said. Then everything was different. 

"It's definitely shaping up to be, of course, a little bit of a different year than everyone had really anticipated," Mertz said.

"Thankfully, with technology, it still feels like we can very much wander and discover new things."

To be safe, Mertz is doing all her wandering, connecting and producing new content from home.

She's sampled local restaurants through delivery, taken an online yoga class, and is hoping to continue interviewing people — just online for now. 

"The funny thing is, I feel like this is almost inspiring more people to want to travel eventually, because they almost want what we can't have," she said. 

"Since we're all sort of feeling a little restricted right now, I feel like when this is all over there's going to be this renewed energy and just excitement about people getting out there again."

Mertz said she hopes to continue doing online interviews to showcase places in the province. (Submitted by Leah Mertz)

Mertz plans to revisit some of the places that past Saskatchewanderers have been to, as she celebrates the program's 10th anniversary. 

"There's a lot to tap into," she said. "I'm kind of overwhelmed like, 'Oh there's a lot I can really do here.'"

Mertz said she also hopes people take advantage of the online initiatives such as virtual park programs. 

"There's still a huge opportunity, I think, for people to see the province just from home." 

Mertz has set up a home studio in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Leah Mertz)

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