Ex-pats returning to Newfoundland disappointed by second provincial lockdown

Some Newfoundlanders who were wary of lockdowns on the mainland chose to move home. Those expecting to find relief from lockdowns were soon met with Alert Level 5 back home.

Chad Feehan
Kicker News

Francis Will plays bass at home in Newfoundland during lockdown, after returning from living in Montreal.
Francis Will plays bass in St. John’s, just as he would in Montreal. He has been fortunate enough to continue working in his field and his studies online.

For some Newfoundlanders living away, the thought of returning home to escape the lockdowns and general fears of living in major urban centres was hopeful and comforting.

Newfoundland was supposed to be a relief from the continual stresses of lockdown, but then in mid-February Alert Level 5 was enacted, returning the province to strict lockdown.

Francis Will had been out of quarantine for barely 48 hours after returning home from Montreal when news of a second lockdown hit headlines.

“I came here because it seemed like this kind of oasis. . . It was definitely attractive, for that reason among others,” said Will.

Will hoped things would get better upon arriving in Newfoundland, but was “used to things getting worse all the time” in Montreal. “I was put out, but not particularly surprised,” he said.

“I didn’t come here expecting to be able to escape the pandemic. I came here with a hope that I would, and I think there was a reasonable hope. But there wasn’t an expectation,” he said.

“I still have a lot to be grateful for. I was able to come back here. Lots of people can’t do that.”Francis Will

In lieu of the lockdown, Will does prefer things here in Newfoundland to the situation in Montreal.

“Montreal is so much more dystopian than here because it’s a bigger city and it thrives more on social activity and being busy than St. John’s does,” he said.

“When I arrived, I was in a real funk. I was in a reasonably depressed state of mind. And that hasn’t come back, so that’s huge.”

Will describes his single weekend of freedom from lockdown as “awesome, but short lived.”

“I still have a lot to be grateful for. I was able to come back here. Lots of people can’t do that.”

Besides promptly eating a plate of fish and chips and catching up with old friends, he had the opportunity to have a few experiences that had been missing from his Montreal life for close to a year.

“I went to a house, and there was like eight people in a room at once. That hadn’t happened to be in a long time, to be in a private residence with that many people. So that was totally weird, but cool.”

Will says he doesn’t mind staying here for longer than he originally intended.

“I still have a lot to be grateful for. I was able to come back here. Lots of people can’t do that.”

Anger at complacency

Newfoundland-born artist Melissa Williams has spent the last eight years in Toronto pursuing acting and the arts, but she moved home September when the Toronto arts scene was looking dire.

“I had made the decision to move because nothing seemed to be going away,” Williams said. “It seemed like Newfoundland had gotten its stuff together, and everything seemed a little bit safer there.”

Williams says she was angry when the province returned to Alert Level 5 after having been in a good place for so long.

“Not because I didn’t respect the lockdown,” she explained. “I was just mad that it even got to a point where people were so complacent here that it ended up happening.”

Transitioning to life in Newfoundland was awkward for Williams as the level of caution she had towards the virus didn’t match the general attitude and behavior of people in the St. John’s area.

Experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder from living through the pandemic in Toronto made it especially hard for Williams to transition to life in Newfoundland.

“When I felt like I was starting to feel fully comfortable and safe, the second lockdown happened…I got very angry.”

“A lot of my friends refer to Newfoundland as the Shire, but the Shire burns down in the end.”Melissa Williams

Leaving Toronto wasn’t an easy decision for Williams, and she finds it hard to compare the two scenarios as she feels they are two different situations.

“I felt hopeless in Toronto,” she said. “I didn’t leave Toronto lightly; I built my life there. As much as I’ll always be a Newfoundlander in my heart, in my soul, I am also a Torontonian.”

Although she feels like Newfoundland is generally safer and has a better chance of a brighter future in regard to the virus, she did have tempered expectation of what to expect when moving home.

“A lot of my friends refer to Newfoundland as the Shire, but the Shire burns down in the end,” she said, referring to a peaceful locale in The Lord of the Rings.

Despite a false sense of security that may have lead to the second lockdown, Williams does feel the people of province deserve credit for their efforts.

“I want to give props to Newfoundland, too. I very rarely encounter people in public who are not social distancing or not wearing a mask properly.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.