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)

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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The current state of the Royal Hotel. (Photo Contributed by Richard Leeks)
‘No one is willing to step up to take any responsibility’: Royal owners plow on with renovictions

Heat, kitchen appliances, doors, running water and WiFi have been allegedly removed

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
City of Fernie: New orders a challenge, but community is supportive

Mayor Qualizza said that the new public health orders were an opportunity to safeguard the winter season

Sparwood mayor David Wilks was in attendance at the street party to discuss potential changes to Centennial Square.
Wilks reflects on new public health orders

Sparwood Mayor Wilks said that it was important to work towards a normal Christmas in 2020

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read