VANCOUVER -- The COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges daily, and it is especially being felt this long weekend.

Easter Sunday is an important day for Christians, often marked by community gatherings that would be unwise during a pandemic.

This year, people do not need to leave their homes to join mass, as many places of worship have streamed their services online.

“What the circumstances of this year has forced the church to do – in Vancouver and around the world – is to reconnect with the core of our faith,” said pastor Darin Latham of Broadway Church in Vancouver. “It's not about a show, it's not about a big service with fancy music and lights, it's about an individual having access to God.”

Spreading joy to loved ones

One Metro Vancouver family took advantage of the extended weekend to reconnect with a loved one.

Since the outbreak, Zafira Nanji hasn’t been able to visit her father who lives in a Burnaby nursing home. It has been especially difficult for her young son, since he doesn’t quite understand why they must stay apart.

“He's pretty sad; he's really attached to his grandfather,” Nanji said. “We probably come out a couple times a week and he hasn't been able to touch him or see him and so that's really hard.”

This weekend, her family visited her elderly dad through the window as they took turns taping hearts and cards on the glass.

“Both their faces lit up and it was really kind of heartwarming to see them connect for that moment, the closest they've been in a really long time,” Nanji said.

Spreading cheer to the community

As a nurse, Rae Crawford sees first-hand the difficulties and heartbreak COVID-19 can bring.

“I was feeling a lot of stress going to work,” she said.

As a way to cope, she began writing inspirational messages with chalk along park paths in her neighbourhood.


Easter edition ��

A post shared by Rae (@raeraeletters) on

“I tell my kids, ‘Let's go spread joy in our walk,’ and they have fun,” she said.

She posted some of those messages on her Instagram, where people have contacted her to tell her how those notes have brightened their day.

“Anything to kind of change the mood or bring joy, and to know that we're kind of sending joy to someone else and it’s working and being received, it makes us feel good, too,” Crawford said.