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

Just Posted

The buoys are back in town

Watershed Wanderings column by Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Invermere council okay with ‘reverse grad march’ idea

Nothing finalized and complications aplenty, but Invermere council agrees to grad march idea

101-year-old man targets 101 block fundraising walk for food bank

A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the food bank.

Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

Hospital chief of staff provides guidance on COVID-19 and the Columbia Valley as we open up

Chief of staff says: “COVID-19 … is still here and is not going away any time soon.”

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Most Read