A year ago, students at École Crane coped with the onset of the pandemic by assembling their thoughts into a collection of poetry and prose.
A year later, as we find ourselves in a period of remote learning once again, this collection, called “Our History,” is being recognized as an important archive of pandemic reality for future generations.
In the spring of 2020, teacher-librarian Trish Steadman had taken over SeeSaw lessons in English and was conducting writing sessions for students in Grades 1–4. Her attention was drawn to an article on pandemic journaling, and she thought this might be a connecting activity that would bring the displaced community together.
“Students shared stories…as kids living through this pandemic,” Steadman said. “The idea was to help kids feel free and see themselves as writers. . . . Some entries made me laugh, [but] more than anything they touched me. It was a little stab to the heart, these kids.”
At the time, staff collected stories and the school secretary, Tracey Dionne, carefully typeset the writing in a form true to the endearingly imperfect originals. Copies of the book were distributed to each child who wrote a submission and to classroom teachers.
“We tried to focus on what is good, what we are learning,” Steadman shared. Looking back, she says she is amazed at the work everyone has done and at all the effort that has been involved in ensuring students continue to learn during the pandemic. “This is not our normal. I hope that soon this will be a distant memory.”
Memories fade, and it is the job of archivists to ensure they don’t disappear entirely. As much as we may be eager to forget this pandemic, people like Roland Sawatzky, curator of history for the Manitoba Museum, recognize the importance of documenting our experience. A recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press describes how Sawatzky went looking for artifacts in the museum’s collection to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, and found there were none. To ensure the current pandemic is documented for future generations, the Manitoba Museum has put out a call for artifacts from the public.
Staff at École Crane have reached out to the Museum about their booklet and are waiting to hear back.
Pembina Trails would like to share a few entries with our community, to honour the young writers as well as to remind ourselves how far we’ve come and how strong we are. Stories and poems are verbatim and unedited.
How my life changed
my mommy and daddy take me to minesota For summer. bicuse of COVID-19 I cant go. L I am sad L that I can not go to play in Nickaloden wold! L mommy said we have to stay home to keep everyone safe. I miss my Vacaicon. And miss going to Costco to eat hot dogs. and i miss going to school. i pray that Covid 19 will go Far Far Far Far Far away and Never come bAck! J
Grams and Pops
I miss going to my Grams and Pops. If I was going there I would be playing hockey with Pops. I feel joy when Grams and I watch movies and plant flowers.
I miss Easter dinner and Easter treats that Grams and Pops give me. I will feel happy when I see Grams and Pops again!
What I can and can’t do during covid-19
I can play with my toys. I can play with my brother. I can play lego.
I can play with my family.
I can Go for bike rides.
I can Go for runs.
I can Go for walks.
I can Go to my Grandma’s back yard,
I cant’ huG people.
I cant’ Go into peoples’ Houses.
I cant’ have playdates.
I Can not Wait till this is Over!!
I couLD’t go through quarantine without my brother. one of my favorite thines to do together, is PlAYing minecrAft. Another thing I love to do with my brother is build forts.
The thing I’m missing the most, during Quarantine, is sports. I started my first year of hockey, and I was exited for the end of year tornement, but it was canceled. L At the end of the season we were suposed to have a wind-up. I was going to have a pizza party and going bowling, but it was canceld. L It made me feel SO SO SO sad!
During the NHL play-offs, I always LOVE watching the Jets play with my Dad. Also I loved watching other sports with my Dad to. But I couldn’t because all the sports were canceled.
I was going to start playing baseball with my friend Rowan. It was going to be my first year playing baseball but it was canceled. But since we have lots of free time now I can play baseball, street hockey, mini sticks. And I can at least watch highlights with my Dad!
What its like going to the grocery stor
There are long lines.
And you have to stand 2 metres apart. Kids are not allowed to go to the store. And there is not much tilet paper for some reason.
I want to go to the store!!!
Thanks again to our young writers and school staff!