May 10, 2020 This Mother’s Day is Different Dear friend, To be honest, I’ve always been a little cynical about Mother’s Day. I think it’s because my own mother always scoffed at the idea of a one-off holiday. I can hear her saying, “Mothers should be celebrated every day!” And I don’t disagree. But today, I think it’s so important that we pay special attention to the mothers in our lives—particularly those that are struggling under the added weight of this pandemic. For many new mothers in The Stop’s community, COVID-19 has brought stress, uncertainty, and isolation. Of the nearly 60 participants who currently take part in The Stop’s Healthy Beginnings Program: • Many are first-time parents, who are worried about giving birth in a hospital or bringing their baby outside for fear of the virus. • Many face a loss of income in their family due to the shutdown—and because most are newcomers at various stages in their immigration process—they may not be eligible for income supports like CERB. • Most are dealing with the incredible stress of not having their families, friends, and support networks here with them in Canada. The quote at the top of this blog post comes from one of our participants whose father and stepmother recently tested positive for COVID-19, and sadly, who has already seen two members of her extended family die from the virus. The Stop’s Healthy Beginnings program has run for decades, working to improve the health and well-being of new and expectant parents in our community. It offers information, education, and support, with opportunities to talk one-on-one with a team of nurses, dietitians, settlement workers, counselor/therapists, and family support workers. It also provides a healthy lunch, food hamper, food vouchers, and free childcare. Last year, almost 200 healthy birth-weight babies were born to participants in our program. Keeping expectant parents healthy, well-fed, and calm is vital for their health and the health of their babies—especially now. The Stop’s staff are continuing to find unique ways to support our participants at a distance. Our Healthy Beginnings Team Lead Christina Rousseau explains: “The moms really miss seeing each other every week. They’re so happy to see each other each when they come get their food hamper these days, even if it’s just for a few minutes in passing. I think that losing out on the social connections they’ve begun to establish has been really hard, especially for those who are new to Canada and don’t have family or friends here. A big part of the program is helping participants make connections and create their own networks of support, so along with the food hampers and baby supplies we distribute, we’ve created a WhatsApp group and have been doing weekly wellness calls over the phone to see how they’re doing.” Healthy Beginnings participants in June, 2017 Mother’s Day is a joyful holiday, but it’s also an important opportunity for us to examine how the COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately impacting mothers, women, girls, and gender diverse people—and what we can do to support them and advocate for change. Women make up more than 90% of nurses, 75% of respiratory therapists, and 90% of Personal Support Workers in long-term care homes where they perform daily hands-on care for vulnerable and elderly residents. Women of colour are over-represented in these essential work positions and also in fatalities from COVID-19. Today, I encourage you read this article on how the pandemic is impacting women and mothers in Canada, and to take action. Sign this petition from the YWCA calling for a feminist approach to COVID-19, and consider ways that you could support the different mothers in your lives. Although we may be physically separated from them, there are so many ways for us to stay close and connected. As we’ve found in the Healthy Beginnings program, even a weekly phone call goes a long way. From all of us at The Stop, may you have a very happy Mother’s Day. Leigh Godbold Executive Director The Stop Community Food Centre Share Your #MamasAdvice Mama Earth Organics are celebrating mothers while supporting our Healthy Beginnings program. Today on social media, post a photo of a mother in your life with the best advice they ever gave you, tag @mamaearthorganics #MamasAdvice🍎, and for every post Mama Earth will donate $5 to our program.