Kim Baglole takes social distancing seriously, but the organizer of the P.E.I. Bear Hunt says it doesn’t need to be gloomy.
Baglole was inspired after seeing a bear hunt in Gander, N.L., where people were placing teddy bears in the windows of their homes and encouraging families to drive around “hunting” the teddies.
Baglole started the P.E.I. Bear Hunt public group on Facebook and the membership reached 8,000 in nine days, she said.
“In two or three days it was two or three thousand people and I’m like, ‘What is going on here?'”
The Southwest Lot 16 resident said it is important for her to stay vigilant and take precautions at home to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19 strain).
Her husband, Kevin Baglole, has a compromised immune system and Baglole said she’s been protecting him “kind of like a vault”.
“The only time he’s left the house since Feb. 26 was one afternoon we went bear hunting,” she said, adding the couple took a drive and returned home without leaving the van.
Being part of the bear hunt has lifted their spirits
The online community has been sharing stories of their bears and how the stuffed animals have been helping in this uncertain time.
“It’s really helping with the COVID-19 and everything – something to take our minds off of it."
“It’s really helping with the COVID-19 and everything – something to take our minds off of it,” she said.
“It’s overwhelming, the stories that people are telling … it has really uplifted me.”
The P.E.I. Bear Hunt page has several videos of dancing bears – one is in a kilt while another is disguised as a taco.
“I think they found something a little bit distracting to hang on to,” said Baglole.
People are asked to hunt in their cars, counting bears as they go, and post their bears to the Facebook group.
There is also a video contest underway online where bear lovers can use teddies to show ways to socially distance themselves, said Baglole. Sponsors have donated prizes for the best video.
She has an example online using her “bearnoculars”.
"The group has taken on a life of its own," she said.
"People are finding ways that they can help and it’s making them feel better.”
Next up, Baglole is inviting Islanders to hold a teddy bear picnic at 3 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 12.
“You have your picnic at your home because the group is all about self-distancing,” she said.
“Everybody can do videos or pictures of their own teddy bear picnic at their house.”
Baglole would like the picnics to be a tribute to P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison.
“Tell (her) we are getting this social distancing, we are listening to you, you are doing good work and we want you to know that,” said Baglole.
But she reminds people it’s also a way to come together by remaining apart.
“It’s all about self-distancing. I don’t want people getting the wrong idea, I don’t want people getting together or anything that’s against the doctor's rules or the provincial or federal governments.”
She hopes the chief health officer might even have a minute to tune in.
“On Sunday, she probably has a little bit of downtime.”
Details on the upcoming Easter Sunday teddy bear picnic will be available on Facebook.
Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].