Alejandra Sanchez

Written by Canmore Museum

How long have you been in the Bow Valley?

“I moved to the Bow Valley about a year and a half ago, in May 2019 for work. I got a job at Pursuit, and I always said when I was living in Calgary, if I ever got a job that allowed me to afford living in the Bow Valley I would move, so I did! I got a full-time permanent position, and that’s when I moved. I first moved to Canada on January 1st 2016, before that I was born and raised in Mexico City. “

What does an average day or week look like for you right now?

“I have a Monday to Friday office job, I’ve been working from home since March. That’s been consistent throughout this pandemic fortunately. I try to take a break during the work day to walk the trails behind my house In the afternoons since its wintertime it’s a bit less exciting to go out and do stuff. But I usually spend the weekends snowshoeing or snowboarding, away from people or crowds. “

How are you getting along with your close relationships?

“Actually it’s been a crazy time. When COVID started and we went into lockdown on March 15 , I had just been promoted to a manger position in the marketing department. I got laid off and that was my dream job so I only got to try that for two weeks. But I decided to take it in a good way, that it was out of my control. I stated enjoying my free time for as long as I needed. I started meditating, and I would go hiking around where I live in Cougar Creek every couple days to ease my mind and work out.”

Because I was laid off, I ended up going to Nunavut to an Inuit dry community in an island very up north with my boyfriend and his family. Because we were both unemployed and things were kind of crazy. I went up for a couple of months. In the meantime I did get called back to work but fortunately my job can be done remotely. I spent half my summer in Nunavut. It was very random. Never in my life I never thought I would be living in a dry community in the North Pole! I was probably the only Mexican up there. It was wild for sure! Eventually I came back, and things got back to normal-ish but its been very difficult. Things are very hard because its been a year and a half, two years since I’ve seen my family.

Being from Mexico City its very easy to go there and I’m very close to my family. This year I was planning to go on a trekking trip to Peru with all of them in June, but that obviously didn’t happen with the travel restrictions. They cannot come and I cannot go so it’s been hard.

My parents after COVID decided they want to move to Canada soon, which is sobering I thought would never have happened. I had a conversation before I moved to Canada, and it was very clear to them they were going to stay in Mexico and I was ok with it. After COVID they realized they do want to come to live in Canada. That’s a very positive thing that came of COVID I would say.“

Has this impacted your financial situation?

“Fortunately not. I actually realized how much I spend going out, so I’ve been saving a lot of money.“

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

“I would say the uncertainty. It is very hard to plan ahead, and especially in my position right now in marketing, we do a lot of planning, it’s been a constant stop and go, stop and go. I find it being very mentally draining. We have big plans but who knows what’s gonna happen.”

Is there anything you are afraid of?

“Umm, that’s a good question. I would say just when we were told we were going to be laid off, that was the moment that hit hard. I’ve never been laid off in my whole career. I thought I could search for a side-job in between but there was nothing to do, nowhere to go. It hit me really hard the day that it was announced. Fortunately it was a blessing it happened in Canmore, because I closed my computer, went for a walk in the woods and meditated. It helped to calm myself down and get some perspective.”

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

“Yes, that’s more of a personal side not career side. I was supposed to break up with my boyfriend because he was taking a gap year in Europe with a work visa to travel and enjoy life. He made it to England on March 15th and then they closed the borders, so he couldn’t get to Spain where his work visa was for. He ended up coming back, we went to Nunavut, and now we are living together.“

What do you think you will remember from this time?

“I think I will remember the month and a half that I was off. Thankfully by then CERB had already been announced and I knew I wasn’t going to struggle financially. So I fully embraced having time off to look after my mental, personal, and physical health, something that I had never done in my life.”

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

“Umm, I would advise them to ensure their life and their home is a real home. In the sense that a lot of people found themselves stuck at home in a hideous tiny pad or with roommates they don’t like or in a relationship they realized wasn’t good and made the lockdown terrible. In my case it was the total opposite. But I would advise them to always make sure their home is a real home and they like being there.”

Anything else?

“Just probably a mention, since we’re talking about Bow Valley, I was very heart-warmed by the response of people and local businesses, and all the support that was given, and the understanding. That’s something you don’t see in a big city like Calgary or Mexico City. Very heart-warming and its nice to know I’m part of the community.”

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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