'You can't cancel kindness': New book highlights Canadian caring amid COVID-19
TORONTO -- Even in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Canadians have found ways to make the rest of the country smile.
Remember the woman in Port Hood, N.S. whose recipe for cinnamon rolls spread all over the internet? The schnauzer from Quebec that attracted hundreds of thousands of followers for its advice on surviving social isolation? The pilot whose path over Nova Scotia formed the shape of a heart?
All of their stories, and dozens more, are collected in a new book by two Canadian authors.
It took Heather Down and Catherine Kenwell just a little more than seven weeks to assemble the stories behind the 49 uplifting moments they chronicled during the pandemic.
The book includes everything from the tale of Robbie Griffiths, the father from Paradise, N.L. who dressed up as Spider-Man so kids could have something positive in their day, to Carter Mann, the Grade 5 student from Sudbury, Ont. who wrote a poem to inspire frontline heroes including his own father, who is a paramedic.
“There [are] stories from every single province,” Down told CTV News.
She wanted to highlight the fact that unlike most things in a lockdown, kindness was not cancelled -- a sentiment that became the title of the book.
“Not Cancelled: Canadian Caremongering in the Face of COVID-19” is a reminder that a lot of positive things happened during lockdown.
“You can't cancel laughter, you can't cancel love,” she said. “You can't cancel kindness, you cannot cancel baking!”
Mary Janet MacDonald, who shared her knack for cinnamon rolls in a Facebook Live video after her daughter suggested it,told CTV News Atlantic in April that she was happy to be able to spread joy with her skills.
“I’ve had so many families cooking together and saying this reminds me of my grandma. It’s just really nice to know they’re cooking together and having fun,” she said.
The book's title is a nod to the Canadian response to the pandemic, as the word "caremongering" has Canadian roots. Even the number of stories is no accident; it's a reference to the 49th parallel, along which runs the Canada-U.S. border between Manitoba and B.C.
One of the stories in “Not Cancelled” centres on the marriage of a couple in B.C. They may have had to shift their celebrations to a living room, but the ceremony was far from lonely. Friends showed up in their cars outside, with everyone tuned into the same radio station, so the bride and groom could have their first dance in the middle of the street.
There’s a section on the initiative born in Barrie, Ont., that saw musicians from around the world unite online to perform their own versions of a song called “We Are One.” There's the story of a priest who taped photos of his parishioners to his pews as he streamed his mass online, trying to keep them together.
Down wanted to document how the nation navigated such dark times with kindness. And she said that working on the book helped her cope with challenges her own family was facing during the pandemic.
She told CTV News that “the response has been amazing. I’m so pleased.”
The stories included in the book are just the tip of iceberg. Down says that there are so many stories left over that she and Kenwell might just have to do a second book.