Vancouver Island mom faces ‘pandemic police’ for bringing kids to the grocery store

Mother pleads for people to stop shaming single parents

Janene Walker says she has been criticized publicly for taking her two children with her while she grocery shops during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with her husband deployed she struggles to find other options. (Photo courtesy of Janene Walker)

As ‘stay home’ orders ring out from provincial press conferences and social media posts, one Sooke mother of two is pleading with the public to stop shaming her for taking her kids along for errands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janene Walker says her options during essential outings are limited. Her husband is deployed with the military, and without family in the area, there is no one to help her with babysitting.

She also says that as an able-bodied and healthy stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t fit the bill for many volunteer and delivery services available to more vulnerable community members during the crisis.

Walker says she takes social distancing measures seriously, and has talked to her children about the importance of leaving space between themselves and others. So she was surprised, on March 28, when she encountered hostility twice while grocery shopping with her two-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

READ MORE COVID-19 COVERAGE HERE

The first incident occurred while she was changing her daughter in the back of her van in the Langford Lowes parking lot. She says a man in a truck yelled out his window at her: “Keep your kids in the house for Christ’s sake!”

Walker was hurt by the comment from someone she calls a member of the “pandemic police.”

“You don’t know what my situation is,” she says. “It’s not like I’m pulling up to the grocery store and letting my kids run amok and lick everything.”

Walker says there was another altercation that day in Quality Foods. She says her daughter was strapped in the shopping cart and her son was close to her side when a man called her a “s***ty mom” for taking her kids out with her.

The incident escalated, with Walker and the man yelling at one another before he paid and left the store. Walker cried when she got to her car.

“I’m not breaking any rules by having my children here as long as we’re practising social distancing,” she says.

Many grocery stores have now limited capacity, regulating entry at the door. On March 29 the province released specific guidelines for grocery stores and retail food outlets, and while the rules include everything from providing hand sanitizer and implementing two-metre markers for check out line distancing, there is no mention of how many family members can enter a store at a time.

Walker is only a solo parent while her husband is away, but she says compassion should extend to all kinds of single parents who are struggling to keep their household afloat while maintaining physical distancing and isolation.

“There has not been a rule that says kids can’t go with you to the grocery store. Is it ideal? No. Would it be my first choice? Obviously not, but I don’t have any other options,” she says. “All these people just, they think that they know better. And their shaming people publicly when they don’t know their situation.

“We should be helping each other and lifting each other up and showing compassion.”

READ ALSO: B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusGroceriesParenting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Historic Hat Creek finds novel way to keep part of site open

VIP shopping experience offers people private visit to site’s gift shop

Mobile harm reduction service making weekly trips to Cache Creek

Service provides free kits, instruction, information, and referrals to those who need it

Ashcroft food bank benefits from donation as demand increases

Community Futures Thompson Country provides much-needed cash donation

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Most Read