Jennifer Chen, School Trustee, Winnipeg School Division

Jennifer Chen, School Trustee, Winnipeg School Division

I am an immigrant and a mother of two young children. I plan to become vaccinated as soon as I’m eligible. I want to encourage my fellow newcomer friends and community members to take the COVID-19 vaccine to protect ourselves and the people around us.

My parents wanted to be vaccinated when they learned online that seniors were eligible. They only speak a little English, so I called to make their appointment. I was glad to hear recently that you can now make your appointment in Mandarin and Cantonese (and many other languages). I accompanied my parents to the RBC Convention Centre because I worried they would have trouble communicating, but it was actually an easy process. A lot of staff were on site and pointed us in the right direction to go. We were there for about 30 minutes in total, including the 15 minutes that my parents had to wait after the shot. My parents said it didn’t hurt, but their arms were sore the next day.

Sometimes newcomers are hesitant to go places where they don’t speak the language, but I think my parents could have navigated the vaccination site without me.

I’m the president of the Women of Colour Community Leadership Initiative. I’m also a school trustee for the Winnipeg School Division, where we hold virtual meetings now. I miss going to school events, where I have a chance to talk to parents, teachers and students.

With more and more people becoming eligible for the vaccine, people are sharing their reasons for getting vaccinated. One reason shared by almost everyone I talk to is that they are getting the vaccine to protect the people they love and care for. That is also my reason to take the vaccine!

For immigrants, it’s so important to gather together to celebrate our culture and traditional events. Normally for the Lunar New Year we would go to a restaurant in Chinatown and sit around a table and celebrate. But we couldn’t do that this year. After COVID, I’m looking forward to going back to a civilized life. I would like to meet up with friends, go out for meals and travel.

We lost a lot of things during COVID. But the most important thing we did not lose is love. I believe one day we will be able to hug each other again, go outside freely, wear our traditional dresses to cultural events, and dance with music. We must remember that even during difficult times, that we did not lose hope. We can get through it together and we can overcome it together. I look forward to when we can sit around the table and celebrate our traditional new year, and travel to the places that we cherish in our memories.

I want to encourage my community members to get the vaccine. It’s an easy process, it doesn’t hurt, and it will protect our families and community members. With vaccination, we can help build a safer, healthier community for everyone.

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Additional Resources

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from official sources.