Mary (Mvic) Pereja

Written by Canmore Museum

 What’s been the hardest part of this for you?

“The hard part would be not seeing my family. My mom is turning 70 in December and I was planning to go home but I can’t do that. It’s hard too to see people losing their jobs, and hard to see a lot of businesses are closed. It’s so different. You go to a place and there’s nobody. Sometimes it’s okay not to see a lot of people but sometimes you want to see the place lively.

We went to Waterton Lakes National Park and there’s nobody. It’s nice for the nature to recover, but it sad because it looks like it’s a ghost town. It’s hard too, to see other people getting sick, and dying from this virus. It’s so sad that this happened to all of us. It’s really hard for everybody, I feel so sad for everybody.”

Is there anything you are afraid of?

“I’m afraid that this may take a while. I’m hoping and wishing that people should listen to the public health restrictions. I wish that everybody should be careful. I’m just afraid that we’re just going to live like this, you know. I’m just hoping that this will end so that we can just go back to our normal lives.

I like to travel and see other places too and visit other countries, but right now I can’t do that. Travelling is what I like to do, to see my friends, relatives and enjoy life. I’m by myself so what I do is work and have fun. So I’m scared that I can’t do that for another year or two. I’m also scared for my family. I don’t want them to get sick.

My family is back in the Philippines. My mom, my three sisters and their kids. I also have one sister in England. With this pandemic, I can’t see all of them.”

Is there something that turned out to be a secret blessing from this experience?

“Yes there was a blessing. Even though this happened, I was able to get a place for myself. I bought a unit from the Canmore Community Housing in October. I’ve been saving and saving to buy a place and I’ve been waiting for the right one, and yeah, I got approved. I got my first house and I am so blessed. I could not believe it! I have never thought I can buy a house in this Pandemic, but then God gave me this, this house that I can call home and I can say it’s mine! Thank you so much to all the staff of Canmore Community Housing!

I’m so blessed, because I am not sick and still working. I’m blessed and I’m lucky that I’m still alive and I can still talk to my family, and I can still see my friends sometimes. I’m happy!”

What do you think you will remember the most from this time?

“I will forever gonna remember this. People were panic buying toilet rolls and other goods, the long line up at the store, eating in the car because restaurants are closed for dine in, people had to cut their own hair because the salon was closed and wearing masks all the time and sanitizing hands all the time. Wow! Can’t imagine we all went through that. Never thought that would happen to all of us. Nobody knows!

What I realized was, people are working so hard to earn money to buy what they need and do what they want, and with this virus, money is not everything. If you’re going to live one more day, you enjoy it. Life is too short. You just never know what’s going to happen. We didn’t know about this and then one day, boom, that’s it – it’s totally different now.

So yeah, I think people should just enjoy their life and be kind to each other. Just want to say we’re so lucky to live in the Bow Valley because everybody is so nice! People are helping each other. Thank you so much!”

If you could speak directly to somebody in the future, what would you say to them?

“Life is so important! Just enjoy life, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen! Be kind to one another, and care for each other. With your family, never end the day without saying I love you, because you just don’t know what can happen. If it’s your time, its your time, so its better to give love.”

Anything else?

“For all of us, there’s hope. We all just have to listen and follow what the government restrictions are asking. We can all do this together.

This is just a challenge for all of us, and don’t let the sadness take over you. You just find a way to enjoy life. This will end.

I want to thank the Bow Valley. It is a wonderful community to live in. Stay safe every one.”

The Stories of Resilience project offers deeply personal insights into the lives of Bow Valley residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. They each share their unique challenges, fears, hopes, and lessons learnt during this unique time in history. This project was brought to life by a collaboration of local organizations: Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP), artsPlace Canmore, Kristy Wolfe Photography, Canmore Museum. With special thanks to Community Connections in the Bow Valley.

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