Monday, May 11, Happy Mother’s Day!
By Dara Mac PEI, CANADA

More than half of the victims in the recent brutal Nova Scotia massacre were women, many of them mothers. In the past two months, nine women in Canada have been murdered by their partners in their homes, including one mother of six just this past week in New Brunswick. I send love and light to their children; may they be guided, loved, and protected. These have indeed been challenging times!

My 90-year-old mom’s life typically revolves around her social activities, which help to keep her motivated and energized. She plays bridge a few times a week, goes to church with a friend on the weekend, takes the bus to her local shopping mall and library and eats out with family or friends for a few brunches and dinners through the week. She’s known as the Ambassador of her Ottawa high-rise apartment building, always the first to meet and greet new tenants as they move in. My heart aches for the challenges that she has had to endure throughout this lockdown. But, as a senior, senior, as she calls herself, she’s been a real trouper! She’s the last surviving member of her immediate family and the oldest, sole surviving grandparent of my son.

Not many live to that ripe age. Just this past week, we lost one of the most colorful characters on PEI; Bill McFadden passed away at age 72. Bill was an actor, preacher, town crier, and had a role as a Narc in the island film “Pogey Beach.” What an incredible memory he had; able to recite extensive texts at the drop of a hat. I remember one sunny summer evening sitting out on a patio on Queen street in Charlottetown, watching Bill peddle down the street on his bicycle with waistcoat and scarf flapping in the wind and a top hat like Tommy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He will be dearly missed by his 12 children and all who appreciated the uniqueness he brought to our little island.

There’s more sad news for Nova Scotia with the disappearance of a 3-year-old who had been visiting his Grandmother. The search and rescue crew worked through the night but were only able to find the tiny rubber boots floating on the Salmon River. It has become a recovery effort. My heart goes out to his family and their community. So much loss on the East Coast these past few months so in honor, the renowned snowbirds flew over NB, NS, and PEI. My dad was passionate about them, as he loved flying; he used to take us to air shows when we were kids. I remember us sitting on blankets on top of the car waiting for the action to begin! My dad was also part of the freedom fight of WW II which celebrated Victory Day 75 years ago this past week! “Protected in our darkest hours.”

Strangely, the residents of small-town, Souris, PEI were warned by the RCMP not to leave their homes.  A 25-year-old man was in a friend’s apartment smashing things and was pointing a long gun outside the window, threatening RCMP.  After 8 hours of negotiation, the gunman surrendered to police. It is not clear what his motive was.

Also this past week, a well-known landmark in Souris, PEI, the Blue Fin, burnt to the ground. It was a great place to grab a meal with friends while attending the summer Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, which has also been canceled for the first time in 44 years. In place, there will be a virtual 24 hour Chaisson family live concert.
The cancellations continue to pour in, including the Charlottetown Festival’s musical production of Anne; this is the first time it will not run in over 50 years. Thankfully, the summer cruise ship visits have all been canceled in spite of the fact that our CMO says that we didn’t have a curve to flatten! This outcome is likely due to the firm restrictions put in place on PEI, where at this time, non-residents are not welcome. Just this past week, seven travelers were turned back at the airport and put on the next flight off-island.

To date, all 27 cases of COVID-19 on PEI have recovered with no sign of community transmission. So restrictions have once again been lifted to allow five people to visit indoors, hugging a small, select group, and ten people can gather out of doors. If my son and mom were here, that definitely would have made a difference. Instead, I celebrated with my son, daughter in law, grandson, and his girlfriend in a live video chat with China. Xiaolin prepared a lovely sushi and Korean BBQ dinner for the occasion! Happy to have been there for a shared virtual moment! Three years ago, I was able to visit in person and enjoyed many fine dinners and incredible kindness, generosity, and hospitality.

Signs of spring are all around despite the May snowfall. Recreational fishing has opened up, two North Atlantic Right Whales have been observed as they returned to the Gulf of St Lawrence (fortunately, there will be no cruise ships coming through to harm them!); and the beautiful sounds of songbirds can be heard along with the “Who cooks for you”? of the local Barred owl.

The war in 2020 is an invisible one, each of us fighting and surviving on our own; isolated as we descend into our own darkness in search of light. Mine comes in the form of growing (microgreens), planning a greenhouse on my land, and daily drumming practice. Throughout my entire life, I’ve asked, where would I be without my music? That question could not be more apt. “Common suffering builds strong bonds,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry, who was born and raised on PEI. More than ever, I appreciate the connections that I have made with my community of family, friends, and family of musicians. I pray that you, too, have found a connection with your love and passion.