Vancouver Island mom faces ‘pandemic police’ for bringing kids to the grocery store

Mother pleads for people to stop shaming single parents

Janene Walker says she has been criticized publicly for taking her two children with her while she grocery shops during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with her husband deployed she struggles to find other options. (Photo courtesy of Janene Walker)

Janene Walker says she has been criticized publicly for taking her two children with her while she grocery shops during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with her husband deployed she struggles to find other options. (Photo courtesy of Janene Walker)

As ‘stay home’ orders ring out from provincial press conferences and social media posts, one Sooke mother of two is pleading with the public to stop shaming her for taking her kids along for errands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janene Walker says her options during essential outings are limited. Her husband is deployed with the military, and without family in the area, there is no one to help her with babysitting.

She also says that as an able-bodied and healthy stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t fit the bill for many volunteer and delivery services available to more vulnerable community members during the crisis.

Walker says she takes social distancing measures seriously, and has talked to her children about the importance of leaving space between themselves and others. So she was surprised, on March 28, when she encountered hostility twice while grocery shopping with her two-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

READ MORE COVID-19 COVERAGE HERE

The first incident occurred while she was changing her daughter in the back of her van in the Langford Lowes parking lot. She says a man in a truck yelled out his window at her: “Keep your kids in the house for Christ’s sake!”

Walker was hurt by the comment from someone she calls a member of the “pandemic police.”

“You don’t know what my situation is,” she says. “It’s not like I’m pulling up to the grocery store and letting my kids run amok and lick everything.”

Walker says there was another altercation that day in Quality Foods. She says her daughter was strapped in the shopping cart and her son was close to her side when a man called her a “s***ty mom” for taking her kids out with her.

The incident escalated, with Walker and the man yelling at one another before he paid and left the store. Walker cried when she got to her car.

“I’m not breaking any rules by having my children here as long as we’re practising social distancing,” she says.

Many grocery stores have now limited capacity, regulating entry at the door. On March 29 the province released specific guidelines for grocery stores and retail food outlets, and while the rules include everything from providing hand sanitizer and implementing two-metre markers for check out line distancing, there is no mention of how many family members can enter a store at a time.

Walker is only a solo parent while her husband is away, but she says compassion should extend to all kinds of single parents who are struggling to keep their household afloat while maintaining physical distancing and isolation.

“There has not been a rule that says kids can’t go with you to the grocery store. Is it ideal? No. Would it be my first choice? Obviously not, but I don’t have any other options,” she says. “All these people just, they think that they know better. And their shaming people publicly when they don’t know their situation.

“We should be helping each other and lifting each other up and showing compassion.”

READ ALSO: B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusGroceriesParenting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

On any given day, Brenda Mallory can be found holding court in her front yard on her acreage near Tyhee Lake. (Thom Barker photo)
Spice of Brenda: Our long-time columnist gets frank (when wasn’t she?)

Brenda Mallory has packed a lot of creativity into her life

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read