Northern seniors display positive messages in light of COVID-19
SUDBURY -- Anyone who thinks social media is a young person's game should talk to one of the residents at the Wikwemikong Nurse Home.
On March 18, 15 of them posted signs with messages to the world that they are okay and that they don't want COVID-19.
The post simply reads "The signs say it all" #itsnotaboutyou , it was an immediate hit and has already been shared more than 15,000 times in its first 24-hours online.
The signs vary, anything and everything from the hashtag of their campaign, to 'I know you love me' and 'don't worry we have toilet paper.'
"Even though we closed the home (restricted access), we were getting calls from the community saying 'can I come into the home, I don't have any symptoms?' And I'm like you know you could still be a carrier of the coronavirus and still no symptoms and I can't take that risk," said Administrator Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier.
Staff had closed the home earlier this week, in accordance with recommendations they were getting from local health authorities.
They teamed up with their residents and asked them what message would they like to get out and took to Facebook to show the world they are okay.
"It's so surreal to us," said Osawabine-Peliter, in referring to how viral the post has gone. "If we get a couple hundred likes on a post we make we're like 'yeah' but now we've reached 1.1 million and that's just insane to us."
"I think why it is going viral is because the message is coming from them directly, it's not me saying it, it's not the doctor saying it, it is our residents, the older population. They're sharing that message of wash your hands, self-isolate and don't go in crowds, don't come here," she laughed. "Not to do it in a mean way but to protect our loved ones here."
Helen Oswald is the resident council president. Oswald says they may not be getting any visitors at the moment but they're still finding ways to keep busy.
"It's very much normal, we haven't done anything different. It's just everyone's in of course and we're just going about our everyday business the same, no panic or anything," she said.
According to Oswald, some of the residents have had questions because they don't listen to the news or radio everyday but so far everyone's taking this in stride.
She says her family is understanding of the move to close the facility to anyone but staff.
"No one is in a panic, our local grocer is fully stocked and he says the people are doing very well," said Oswald, who joked they've also got toilet paper.
Ken Peltier was one of the first residents pictured who held the sign #itsnotaboutyou.
"We're doing pretty good, but with the sickness I'm scared of coughing too hard and there would be a bad accident," said Peltier, whose also known as the resident jokester. "We're teasing each other, getting on each other's nerves but other than that, we're doing alright."
Peltier says his message to those on the outside would be that they're okay and he's hoping everyone is washing their hands with soap and water.
"That's the message, we're going to be okay, we'll get through it and as long as we adhere to what the message is out there to stay home, self-isolate and not to panic then we'll get through it," said Osawabine-Peltier.
They're currently fundraising for a nursing home. They're also encouraging anyone who would like to FaceTime or Skype with a resident and visit with them to give them a call. They're also actively seeking pen-pals so the residents know they're being supported from a distance.
CTV News connected all of the interviews for this story via Skype.