Coronavirus: Vancouver Island mom shamed for grocery shopping with kids

A Vancouver Island mother was publicly shamed twice in one day for taking her children to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My husband’s deployed [with the military] so it’s just me and the kids,” Janene Walker said on CKNW’s Mornings with Simi.

The two incidents occurred on March 28 in Langford, first at the Lowe’s, then again an hour later at the Quality Foods.

Walker said she hadn’t even entered the store before being confronted by another shopper in the parking lot.

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“Before we even got out of the vehicle … a man drove by and screamed out the car at me something to the effect of ‘Keep your kids in the house, for Christ’s sakes.'”

Later inside the store, another man started “yelling” at her, calling her a “s****y mom.”

“I’m not breaking any rules,” Walker said. “My daughter was strapped in to the cart and my son was holding on to the side of it. They were not running around or anything.”

She added they were obeying the six-foot social-distancing rule and that the children’s hands were cleaned with sanitizer.

Her children, including her six-year-old son, witnessed both confrontations.

“When we got into the car, he said ‘Are you OK, mommy?’ and I started to cry then.”

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Walker had advice for other single and solo parents: “Reach out. Try to find help within the community so that you don’t have to bring your kids.”

And as for the public shamers? “Maybe if you’re that concerned, offer help instead of harsh words.”

If you see a solo parent with kids at the grocery store, she said, help them get to the front of the line if you can so that they can leave as quickly as possible.

Some people have offered good ideas, such as volunteer programs she may be able to use, but others have been less than helpful, even suggesting she leave the kids in the car — “I’m not going to do that.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus pandemic means social distancing — it doesn’t mean you can’t hug your kids

At the time of the incidents, Walker said there was over a week-long waiting list for grocery delivery in her area, and that volunteer programs were only assisting elderly, at-risk, low-income, or ill individuals.


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