January 2020 arrived with great plans for the British Columbia Women’s Institute: while the members of South Vancouver Island District were busily planning the Provincial Convention planned for June in the Saanich area of Vancouver Island, and the Associated Country Women of the World area conference at the same venue few days later, no one anticipated the what the next six months would bring.
How that the time for these two gatherings has come and gone, and the world has been set on its ear by the COVID 19 pandemic, perhaps it is time to stop and reflect on the impact of this disease on ourselves, our organization and the world in general. We had never heard the terminologies : STAY HOME, STAY SAFE or PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING nor agonized over the nightly newscasts updating the number of new cases and, worse yet, the numbers of deaths here in British Columbia, across Canada and throughout the world.
Not only were the two conventions altered, but the average Women Institutes, also. Firstly,no more gatherings, later that was amended to gatherings of no more than 10 people. Most halls were closed indefinitely. So, forward looking women in the WI discovered ZOOM – and to the time of writing, branches and Districts have been using this form to stay in touch with each other and to make decisions on what we can and cannot do under the current circumstances.
Next, plans were made to hold our Provincial Convention by ZOOM – another innovation to adjust to the changing times. For the first time in our history, the British Columbia Women’s Institute Provincial Convention was held “on-line” June 12, 2020. Thanks to the members who researched, learned and then instructed the rest of us so we could participate! It was quite an experience for us all, and well received by members. However, we missed the personal interchange that is such a large part of Provincial Women’s Institute gatherings. In short, it was new and great, but many hope we get together face-to-face in 2023!
So, what are we learning from this this winter’s flu season? First, that the 1918- 1919 flu season was not a fluke, nor was it a one time only event. Considering that, and wondering what the women in this province did to help curb and overcome that earlier pandemic has given us a push toward creating innovations to help overcome today’s virus. Yes, it has been a trying time, a worrisome six months or more, but we will survive!
So put on your thinking caps, and see what else we can do to continue our efforts For Home and Country. How better can we cooperate with the Health officials to contain the virus? What about wearing masks?
Continuing stay at home when encouraged to? And finding new ways to stay in touch with family members and friends who live at a distance so that when this pandemic passes, and it will, we will be ready to redouble our efforts to help everyone return to normal – however that is defined at that time.
As they say many times, in many circumstances, THIS TOO WILL PASS!
Stay safe, stay happy,
Ruth Fenner, Provincial Historian, British Columbia Women’s Institute
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