‘We’re In This Together’: Saluting Essential Workers

While the responsibility lies with all of us when it comes to staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s folks on the frontlines who don’t have that same luxury


While many Newfoundlander and Labradorians get to stay home during this pandemic, others must go to work each and every day. 

While many recognize the work being done by nurses and doctors throughout this fine  province of ours, sometimes we forget to acknowledge others who literally put their health and their lives at stake to help keep this world  safe and our lives operational. 

Bus drivers must go to work, helping to transport those who have no other way to get to medical appointments or to pick up supplies like groceries and much needed medicines. Grocery store employees have become a frontline defence to help stop the spread of COVID-19, keeping their areas sanitized and helping enforce the social distancing rules put in place to keep us all safe. From correctional officer to those working in gas stations, to government staff to the Canadian Coast Guard; we thank you all for what you do, and for the sacrifices you make, each and everyday so the rest of us can stay safe. We salute you!

Dr. Sonia Sampson

Dr Sonia Sampson, an Associate Professor at Memorial University, is also an Anesthesiologist at the Health Sciences Centre as well as at the Janeway Hospital. This very busy mother of two shares that when she’s not working, she enjoys hiking and board games with her family. Sampson, who moved to this province from Vancouver almost 17 years ago, also has quite a history when it comes to helping others as a global health volunteer. Sampson adds she has grown to love this province very much, and that it feels very much like home.

“Raising our children here makes this place home. Coming from a bigger centre, my husband and I have really learned to cherish our simpler way of life here. Friendships seem somehow closer here, and the pace of life is much more relaxed. There’s less stress here, and it’s a safe and beautiful place to raise our kids,” she shared. If she could pass one message on to Herald readers, it would be this:

“Be patient. Be kind. Look out for your neighbour. Above all, stay home and wash your hands. If you have nothing to do with being an essential worker, maybe only look at the news every few days, not every hour. It will only bring you stress. Find online credible resources for your wellness and for your hobbies as there is substantial local growth in these resources.”

Scott Bowering LPN

Scott Bowering is a LPN working at the Waterford Hospital in mental health and addictions. He also works at the Health Sciences Centre in the urology department. 

When he’s not working, he enjoys teaching fitness classes to his fellow staff at the Waterford Hospital, or at two Good Life Fitness locations. He also loves travelling with his daughter, and in fact was supposed to be heading outside the province on a little getaway before this pandemic changed his plans. He shares he has no complaints. He knows, first hand, how bad things are right now globally.

If he could pass on any advice to his fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians it would be this: 

“Listen to the experts. Stay home. That’s critical right now. But remember your mental health too. Staying home doesn’t mean you are not staying connected to family and friends and to loved ones. Use technology for good. Use it to stay connected. Use it to reach out. Staying home doesn’t mean staying apart. Reach out, but stay home.” 

Bowering also shares that it’s important to stay active. “The gyms are closed but you can go for a walk if you keep the guidelines in place. You can keep moving. Staying in touch, and staying healthy, those two things will help us all get through this together.”

‘I love helping people.’

Tracy Pope is a Transit Operator with Metrobus, a job she has been doing now for 12 years. It’s a job she loves. “I love meeting people, I love helping people. The day goes really fast and I work with some really amazing people,” she begins. 

When she’s not on the job, Pope enjoys hiking and exploring this province of ours. She also loves travelling to a warm destination each year with family, except this one of course, and she loves her (mostly) daily gym visits. She says, while it’s important to stay home, there’s times we can’t. 

“We see those who need public transportation for everything from getting to work themselves to picking up items they need. We have many home care workers who are so important to keeping others healthy, and we have grocery store employees. We have seniors and people who struggle for whatever reason, they need public transportation to pick up groceries or medications.” 

Pope isn’t the only essential worker in her home, in fact her household, made up of her husband and their two daughters, are all essential workers in these pandemic times.

“It makes thing interesting as the first thing we all do is strip and shower and wash our clothes as soon as we get in the door after work. We need to stay healthy ourselves so we can keep going to work every day.” Her advice? “Limit the trips to the store you make. Stay home as much as you can. Wash your hands. Don’t go out if you feel unwell. Stay home to stay safe.”

‘In this together’

Bethany Roberts is a Store Manager at Coleman’s in St. John’s. This busy mom (two dogs and a cat) loves yoga and hiking when she’s not busy with work. She also loves camping and sitting and relaxing around a campfire.

“I enjoy Newfoundland and everything it has to offer. It’s a great place to grow up and live,” she says. Roberts shares she is “quite proud” of the people of this province.

“Everyone came together. Everyone adapted so quickly. Most people really embraced what we had to do to get through this.” Coleman’s really stepped up to the plate as well, she adds proudly. 

“Cleaning practices, plexiglas partitions to protect staff. So many things to make sure we all – from staff to customers – remained healthy.” 

She works with so many amazing people, he adds. “I know so many would like to stay home. They are afraid, for themselves and for their families, but they know how important it is to come to work. Other staff are relying on that, and so are our customers,” she says. Her advice to others is simple, she says.

“We are all learning how to adapt to this new reality. Please, be patient with one another. Be kind to everyone. We will get through this either way, but the journey will be so much better if we just remember to be kind and patient. Everyone is learning. Everyone is adapting. We all want the same goal. We want to protect ourselves and those we love. We are all in this together.”

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