How are citizens, patients and communities mobilizing to be part of the solution?
Community initiatives in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. A compilation by the Canada Research Chair in Partnership with Patients and the Public
Last updated: June 3, 2020
Table of contents
Are you aware of community initiatives mobilizing patients and citizens to respond to the pandemic? Please contact: Katia Dumont: firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to Anitra Bostock, Project Manager in Community Development at the Montreal Palliative Care Institute, Branch of West Island Palliative Care Residence, who came up with the idea of a list of community initiatives in the context of COVID-19 and contributed extensively to compiling inspiring examples for the Compassionate Communities project.
*Please note that many of the links are currently in French, but many images convey the essence of the message
- Montreal police officers paid tribute to health care professionals during the night of March 29, 2020. Many vehicles as well as police officers parked in front of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) to applaud and make noise. The police officers came to say thank you for all their efforts during this difficult time.
- Justin Trudeau starts a wave of recognition for positive actions in Quebec. Via Twitter, the Prime Minister shared some inspiring stories that have been happening across Canada in recent times, launching a wave of positive news related to COVID-19.
- Quebec companies provide free drinks and meals to essential service workers.
- A trucks parade took place on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, honking their horns to spread solidarity, good humour and, according to many, to applaud essential workers.
- The Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds began an east-to-west overflight of the country to support the population in the fight against COVID-19.
- Gratitude garden of painted rocks grows in front of Guelph General Hospital.
Mutual encouragement and nurturing hope
- Since March 18, 2020, more and more Quebecers are displaying rainbow drawings and paintings in the windows of their homes. Often accompanied by the hashtag #çavabienaller (everything will be alright) these illustrations are intended to support one another as neighbours in this period of imposed isolation.
- To combat boredom in places where containment measures are not yet fully imposed, an idea to keep children occupied while walking with their families has gone viral. Teddy bears or rainbows (drawn by children) are displayed in the windows of homes in communities around the world.
- While cases of COVID-19 continue to be confirmed across the country, some Canadians have gone to great lengths to share positivism and demonstrate solidarity in their respective communities.
- 7 Quebec buildings are illuminated in rainbow colors as a sign of solidarity.
- As the COVID-19 outbreak wreaked havoc in the eastern United States, pilots wrote messages in the California sky.
- One of Ontario’s largest tourist destinations found a way to shed light on a dark time, despite many of its attractions being closed. Niagara Falls glowing heart signs are being displayed from hotels and casinos to send hope across the city.
Role models and influencers
- Ariane Moffatt (Quebec singer) joins forces with Telus, pairing her song Debout with touching images of solidarity. Ariane donated the proceeds to Quebec Food Banks.
- Fred Pellerin calls for solidarity during this time, with a song posted to Facebook.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, Elton John and others present: The stars are rallying against the coronavirus. Between charity concerts, calls for donations or generous contributions to their fans, many stars are not hesitating to get involved in the battle against the pandemic.
- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has just won the Super Bowl. He also holds a doctorate in medicine and has offered his assistance to the health network in these times of pandemic.
Mutual aid and support groups
- The Caring Community project mobilizes experienced patient partners, and citizens working together to support vulnerable people through telephone support, referrals and collaboration with community and professional organizations on the front lines.
- The City of Kirkland set up a hotline for seniors 70 years of age and older during the COVID-19 crisis situation.
- The original J’AIME MES VOISINS (JMV) project initiated by the West Island Network in September 2019 aims to reduce hidden poverty. In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, this group can become a peer support centre, a database of volunteers and a space to share initiatives and needs.
- Countless local support groups have sprung up, both on Facebook and in micro-neighbourhoods, and show just how eager Quebecers are to be of service to their neighbours.
- Some caregivers will be able to return to the CHSLDs to take care of residents.
- The #pandemicoflove is a community self-help care movement launched in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It humbly began on March 14, 2020 with one person and was intended to help their own local community. But like an epidemic, the act of love and kindness spread quickly and is now a beautiful movement to help people in need around the world.
- Students to the rescue of a strawberry farmer in Pont-Rouge, Quebec.
- Non-profits team up on the West Island to shop for those isolated during COVID-19 crisis.
- With COVID-19 forcing many businesses and organizations to drastically scale back, some local community organizations are finding ways to continue supporting the most vulnerable members of the community.
- McGill medical students lend a helping hand to vulnerable women.
- Shopping for their groceries so seniors can stay home.
- A nine-year-old girl sews masks to donate to the homeless.
- The Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation purchased tablets for Mount Sinai Hospital so that patients and residents could use Skype with their family and friends. The Foundation continues to collect donations to purchase more tablets.
- The car-sharing company Communauto offers its cars free of charge to health care personnel and community organizations.
- A landlord in Brooklyn offered rent to hundreds of tenants so they could feed themselves.
- More than 30,000 home-cooked meals have been prepared by the New York Sikh Center for Americans who are self-isolating.
- Micro-distilleries are working together to produce 25,000 litres of antiseptic gels for Quebec hospitals and care centres.
- After a three-week hiatus, the Château Frontenac reignits its ovens for a good cause. Over the next few weeks, the staff of the famous hotel will cook more than 80,000 meals for food banks. In Quebec, 1.6 million meals will be distributed to people in need.
- In Poland, glove, mask and gel dispensers are available in the streets.
- Local entrepreneurs have found original and creative ways to continue to feed Quebec during this period of uncertainty or to make efforts to support the community in new ways.
- The call to buy local seems to have resonated even in the branches of the Société des alcools du Québec. Since the beginning of April, sales of Quebec wines available on the shelves of the corporation’s stores have increased.
- The Jardin Botanique will produce fruits and vegetables for citizens in food insecure situation. Throughout the summer, the precious harvest will be available to community organizations.
- COVID-19 and poverty: Quebec is mobilizing to protect vulnerable families.
- Bulgarian deputies and ministers donate their salaries to the public health system during containment.
- Acts of kindness have been multiplying across Canada.
- Iowa woman sews masks, hangs them on ‘giving tree’ during coronavirus.
Activities, Recreation and Education Services
- Several yoga and meditation teachers responded to the call from Quebecers and decided to offer free online classes.
- Some Montrealers have decided to offer their services to the community, ranging from free online training courses to free medical advice.
- Coronavirus lockdown: Dance teacher takes his classes online.
- Since the government’s initial decision to discourage large gatherings at the beginning of March, the Catholic Church of Montreal started streaming Sunday mass online.