Clara Guerrero

Written by Canmore Museum

How long have you been in the Bow Valley?

“I came to Canada, to Canmore, fourteen years ago, in 2006. I have lived all these years in the Bow Valley, in Banff and Canmore, with the only exception of 6 months in 2007, that I stayed in Calgary.”

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

“Thankfully, I continue working. A few less hours a week than before the Pandemic, but during these difficult times, to have a job means a lot. I work in retail in downtown Canmore.

At the store, the current circumstances have changed the dynamics. Keeping the protocols and making sure every person who enters the store follows them while in the store, it feels a little overwhelming.  When I come back home in the evening, I don’t feel like doing too much. We have dinner, then I work on the computer, sometimes I talk over the phone with my family in Colombia, I read before going to bed and then the day is gone.”

How are you getting along with your close relationships?

“With my husband we have been fine. The fact that we are both working, going out of the apartment, helps in all ways. However, with the second wave, the increased numbers, the situation in general, some days are difficult.  Before the pandemic, we went out a lot more, we visited friends or had them at home for dinner. Now, that is not possible.”

I think most of us are emotionally exhausted with this situation, and that reflects sometimes on the relations and friendships.

Has this impacted your financial situation?

“Yes, currently our income is less than before the Pandemic. With the first wave, in March, we were laid off and then were OK thanks to the CERB.

When the businesses opened again, we went back to work, but we both have less income.”

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

“I would say two main issues: first, the uncertainty, the doubts, not knowing for how long this will continue and what would be the ultimate consequences on everybody’s lives.

Second: Not having the possibility of traveling to see our families or to plan a trip to do it.

I miss having the freedom of mobility. Especially when you are an immigrant, it’s a big deal having the dream, the plan, to visit your family.  Now, it is particularly hard because we don’t know when that will happen again. We always need an illusion, something to look forward. Currently, we don’t have any idea and you don’t want to take the risk.

We are blessed here, we have food, a roof, we can work. There are people locked in their homes for months, there are people, family, friends that lost their parents or family because of COVID. It is painful and sad.”

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

“I believe now we are looking more to enjoy the basics. We can live with a lot less. It’s very simple, and very little what we really need to be happy. Of course, we all like to travel, we all like to live comfortably no doubt, but I think people are valuing more the real, important things – friendship, family, taking care of ourselves. Also, seeing more tolerance and compassion.  Maybe before we were all too busy, running and producing and taking everything for granted.

I think this has been a time of reflection and change. We became more appreciative. Life is a lot more than just producing money and buying things.  We value everybody more. Everybody is having some difficult time somehow; we better be compassionate.”

What do you think you will remember from this time?

“The year when the way we were living, changed. The year when the world was lowered. “

Anything else?

The main thing will be to see the positive side. To be more appreciative of what I have, of what life is offering me every day.

“It’s repetitive and we say it all the time, but now it has an urgent meaning. Yes, basically that would be, on a personal level for me, that would be the main learning from this experience.

To be more respectful of other’s feelings. Just to be kind, just try to keep the peace, peace inside and outside.“

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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Canmore Museum