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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Danny Hutchinson, Post-Secondary Administration & Teulon Rockwood Firefighter

Danny Hutchinson, Post-Secondary Administration & Teulon Rockwood Firefighter

When I think about this past year and all the ways COVID has impacted my family’s life, I really do feel the worst for our kids. My wife and I have ten-year-old twins – a son and a daughter – and they’re both starting to go a bit stir crazy at home and really miss their friends.

Both our kids are in hockey and our daughter is in dance. Hockey was paused at the end of 2020, and cancelled for good in February.  My daughter’s dance classes were moved to Zoom for most of the season and this weekend should have been her dance recital.  Everyone is doing the best they can but they’ve missed out on a lot.

It’s those things that make the vaccine rollout the most exciting because it means we can start thinking about when this will all be over. I was very happy to receive my first vaccine about a week ago and my wife has received her first dose too. I received mine at a pop-up clinic on Notre Dame Avenue and the staff made everything really easy.

I arrived at 11:30 am, waited outside for five minutes and then I was brought in to go through the standard screening, identification and consent steps. After that I got my shot within about five minutes and, other than waiting for the fifteen minutes they ask you to stick around for observation, I was done. It was really well organized with a lot of focus being given to social distancing, which was great to see.

I didn’t experience a lot in the way of side effects, only a bit sick to my stomach the day after. For my wife, she had a bit of a headache but there really wasn’t anything worth mentioning for either of us.

Although I think the kids have had the hardest time, my life has definitely seen its fair share of changes over the past year. When the COVID restrictions started last March, I was working at Red River College as an instructor in math and science for trades. We transitioned to working from home right away, with classes put on hold for a week and then we went right into online instruction. It was a really steep learning curve to get things up and running but we have an incredible team at the college with departments and colleagues all working together to make things happen. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like working from home at all at first. Like so many people I was parked at the dining room table at first and I really miss the everyday interactions with colleagues and friends.

Classes ended in June and then I transitioned to a different job at the college coordinating teacher and student schedules. It was definitely a crazy time to start that position given all the scheduling challenges related to COVID-19, but we’ve been able to make a hybrid model work with onsite shops and labs, combined with at-home online courses for theory.

On top of all that, I’m an on-call firefighter with the Teulon Rockwood fire department. As a group, we knew a COVID outbreak in our team would put the community at risk so we spend a lot of time focusing on using masks and cleaning procedures to keep everyone safe.

We’ve done the best we can to make things work both personally and professionally, but I really hope the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. For anyone hesitant about receiving it, I think we deal with a certain amount of risk every day no matter what we do, and the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the cons.

But even when we all eventually get the vaccine, I think life will be different as a result of everything we’ve gone through. I think we were caught flat-footed on a global scale in how to deal with the pandemic and it’s experiences like these that will help us do better in the future.

When I think about this past year and all the ways COVID has impacted my family’s life, I really do feel the worst for our kids. My wife and I have ten-year-old twins – a son and a daughter – and they’re both starting to go a bit stir crazy at home and really miss […]

Devi Sharma, Speaker of Winnipeg City Council, Councillor for Old Kildonan

Devi Sharma, Speaker of Winnipeg City Council, Councillor for Old Kildonan

I am pleased that Winnipeg’s second COVID-19 vaccine Super-Site is now open at 770 Leila Ave (Winnipeg Soccer Federation North). North Winnipeg was a high-risk area throughout this pandemic, so it’s all the more meaningful to see this Super-Site open in our neighbourhood.

In early April, I took my parents to the RBC Convention Centre Site to get vaccinated. Booking their appointment was easy, and I can gladly report that the only side effects they felt was some arm soreness, and an abundance of hope for our future!

Witnessing this moment filled me with tremendous gratitude for the scientists who developed these life-saving vaccines, the frontline healthcare professionals administering them, and the Vaccine Implementation Task Force coordinating their distribution. Vaccines are our best hope to overcome this pandemic and get back to the things we enjoy.

I eagerly look forward to my own vaccine appointment in mid-May at the new Leila Ave Super-Site. It’s important for all of us to do our part and protect each other by getting vaccinated. Many of us can also help family members and neighbours learn more about the vaccines and book their appointments.

Every vaccine approved by Health Canada is safe and effective. Whether it’s at a Super-Site, pharmacy, or medical clinic, I encourage each of you to book your vaccine appointment once you’re eligible and inspire others to do the same.

I am pleased that Winnipeg’s second COVID-19 vaccine Super-Site is now open at 770 Leila Ave (Winnipeg Soccer Federation North). North Winnipeg was a high-risk area throughout this pandemic, so it’s all the more meaningful to see this Super-Site open in our neighbourhood. In early April, I took my parents to the RBC Convention Centre […]

Heather Lawless

Heather Lawless

When I got the vaccine, I was expecting an emotional experience. Instead, I felt something strange I hadn’t felt in a long time—optimism. I had a sense of calm and relief seeing how many people were getting vaccinated at the same time as me.

Dealing with the pandemic has been exhausting. Of my four sons, three are teenagers (one has asthma), and my six-year-old Nolan has severe special needs. On top of that, my husband is a pharmacist who travels to vulnerable fly-in First Nation communities. Until we’re all vaccinated, my family can’t return to any semblance of normal life.

If Nolan caught COVID-19, no one knows how it would affect him. He has a rare form of epilepsy, various neurological problems, and is non-verbal, so he wouldn’t be able to tell us if he had trouble breathing. It’s an unsinkable fear of mine. Before being vaccinated, my husband had fears, too, of getting close to Nolan and passing on the virus. It’s a weird feeling to be scared to hold your child.

We’re battling this together as a family, but it’s difficult. My older sons know we’re Nolan’s protectors, but they’re still teenagers with their own lives and priorities.

I hope everyone considers not just themselves, but those around them who aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, like Nolan. We have so much to fight for collectively, and if we work together and get vaccinated, we can all get our lives back sooner.

When I got the vaccine, I was expecting an emotional experience. Instead, I felt something strange I hadn’t felt in a long time—optimism. I had a sense of calm and relief seeing how many people were getting vaccinated at the same time as me. Dealing with the pandemic has been exhausting. Of my four sons, […]

Additional Resources

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