Over the past 8 months Gabriola Historical and Museum Society (GHMS) has been documenting stories, memories, and accounts of Gabriolans’ everyday experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is funded with the support of the Gabriola Arts Council’s (GAC) Federal grant “Together we Triumph”.

The project has created a free Gabriola Island Pandemic Stories commemorative booklet that each Gabriola household has received in their mailbox. The project also includes a companion website with video interviews, archived Gabriola Sounder articles, and a museum exhibit. The website can be viewed at: gabriolapandemicstories.ca.

The project was led and developed by April Vannini in collaboration with Mike Swallows (graphic designer), Kevan Heughan (website developer), Devon Featherstone (exhibit artist), Cathy Welch (exhibit construction), Vicky Bowes (artist), and Phillip Vannini (video editing support). April states, “We can tell stories in a variety of ways. The three products from this project tell different stories but also work together to help tell the larger story. We drew from Gabriola Sounder archives, photographs, submitted written accounts, artwork, video recorded interviews, handmade books, and graphic design elements, that all come together to help capture different experiences”.

April was asked what she thought was the most important message. “Not one person on Gabriola Island experienced the pandemic in the same way. I do think there is one common thread; people are grateful to everyone who rolled up their sleeves and made things work as best as they could within Public Health Orders”.

“The Museum is appreciative to everyone who contributed and shared their own experiences to the project”, states Museum president Joan Merrifield. “We’re looking forward to the opening exhibit and inviting the community to attend”.

The exhibit opening for Gabriola Island Pandemic Stories is on Sunday March 19, 2023 from 11am-1pm. The opening will include a small celebration to honour our community members for all their hard work and resilience during a very difficult time. Gabriola Singers—with new Choir Director Steve Smith, will be in attendance to perform a song written and composed by late Choir Director Gail Lund. The Gabriola Singers have never performed this song for an audience and is called “Our Covid Choir”. Other community members will be in attendance to recite their own stories and the exhibit will be open to the public.