Looking back and moving forward after a year of crashes, growth and what being Nova Scotia Strong really means.
by Alicia Simms
What happened this year? I think it might be easier to cover what didn’t. Instead of winter blooming in to spring, it lead us in to darkness and uncertainty for months. A global pandemic brought our economy and lives to a grinding halt. As we tried to find our individual footings from lay offs, business closures and working from home, all eyes turned to Nova Scotia as we experienced the largest mass murder in Canadian history. Before we could even process this tragic event, a missing child shook our community once again. There was the downtown fire that claimed 4 of our local businesses. When it seemed like Nova Scotia could bear no more heartache, we came together as family, friends and community to show the world what community really meant – what Nova Scotia Strong really meant.
It’s hard for me to comment on a lot of this. I did not personally lose anyone in April, though I know people who did. While my businesses were closed down for three months, I was able to get by with small business relief programs, and the generous support of my clients; some businesses were not so lucky. I cried a lot and didn’t know why. I had emotions I couldn’t process. I went from working more than I could handle to not working at all . I felt lost and out of control, and I knew I wasn’t alone.
2020 was going to be a big year for Truro Buzz, my little passion project turned full-time job – and it still was, but not at all how I expected. We started the year off strong – I had hired my first Truro Buzz employee in 2019, Tasha, and we were accomplishing so much together! We were expanding Truro Buzz by taking on Out of Bounds Adventure Tours and hiring my third employee! As the Coronavirus, now Covid-19, spread, the unthinkable happened. I had to close my doors, lay off my staff, and wait.
I think I might have been in shock that first week, I remember sporadically crying a lot. I was home alone – my partner was working on the other side of the country. There was nothing I could do but watch in awe with the rest of the world as the circumstances unfolded. What could I do to help? I have this platform, this audience, but what can I possibly do to help people right now? Like other businesses, we pivoted (yes, I’m sick of this word too). The weekly newsletter went from being upcoming events to helpful tips on how to work from home, indoor activities for kids, recipes using what you already have in your pantry. Posting on social media was updating people on local business hours, and what restaurants were offering delivery.
I was extremely lucky to be able to offer live interviews with a series of professionals where people could tune in and ask questions – a local doctor, the Chief of Truro Police, a business coach, a grief counsellor, nutritionist, etc. (you can still watch these on our YouTube channel). No income was coming in but Truro Buzz was serving a higher purpose, and it helped me get through as much as it did our followers. I received SO many emails of encouragement and thanks from people grateful for keeping the newsletter and social media feeds going – despite what was happening. My heart was so full. This is why I started doing Truro Buzz in the first place. I was reconnected with my ‘why’.
Out of so much darkness and pain came so much love and support from businesses and the community- like supporting frontline workers by buying them meals and baked goods from local businesses, and a free delivery service for businesses and individuals unable to get around. Eventually we reopened, and hastily so. I had lost my staff for understandable reasons, but was able to rehire great people and continue on with whatever 2020 had in store. We saw life returning to our county- our businesses reopen, able to celebrate holidays, Pride Week, and Truro host its own Black Lives Matter rally as a part of the biggest civil rights movement in history.
All in all, it’s been a year of learning and we’re still here. I, like so many, looked at the time off as a reset button, and how I wanted to go forward when life resumed. Personally, I felt emotions and grief I’d never felt before. Professionally, I learned what it was like to be held accountable for cultural appropriation and what some considered propaganda posts- what running something like Truro Buzz means exposing yourself to. But I’m still here, taking it all in and learning more every day, and I’m glad that you’re here too.