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Kendall Worth: Christmas in October

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – You may think it a bit weird for me to talk about Christmas in October but many people on social assistance are already starting to develop a bit of anxiety thinking about how they are going to prepare for Christmas this year. 

The difference this year is that before we never had the COVID-19 restrictions and public health protocols to deal with.  

Here are some things we must consider:

Unlike financially better-off people, welfare recipients do not have the same resources to keep up with the news and for keeping an eye on learning about things like what COVID-19 restrictions are presently eased and lifted. 

We’re often in the dark because welfare recipients cannot afford to have cable and internet in their homes. Most of these same welfare recipients do not even have a working radio.

And although libraries have internet access, due to social distance protocols it so happens that some income assistance recipients have anxiety about going to the library these days. Many welfare recipients, (especially the ones who are isolated in general life) are living more cautious lives these days.

Meanwhile, as I talked about in this story here Kendall Worth: Christmas 2019 – where to eat many welfare recipients celebrate Christmas by going to dinners that local organizations organize every year. This year these meals are likely either going to be offered as take-out meals or canceled.

No one, including welfare recipients, wants to be alone for Christmas.

Talk of a vaccine for COVID-19 not being available for as long as another year has welfare recipients (or at least  the 20% lucky ones who  have family to visit) scared to make plans to be with family this Christmas. 

As before, staying with family in rural Nova Scotia during the holidays is a concern. For instance, people I mentioned in my story For many on social assistance moving back to rural Nova Scotia right now is a bad idea  are already getting contacted by financially better off people who knew them from growing up in Cape Breton offering them rides home to see their families for the holidays this year.

But what if the second lockdown happens while away in rural Nova Scotia?  

I worry about this, because normally I go for Christmas 40 minutes outside of Antigonish, which is not close enough to Halifax that I can return to Halifax Immediately if the second lockdown happens while I am there. 

Luckily I already have a couple of invites to spend Christmas with friends here in the city (provided that we are not in second lockdown) this year, if I do not get to spend it with family.

It’s really time for people to start following the guidelines. I say follow the advice and maybe we will not have a second lockdown come Christmas.  

Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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