Many Yellowknifers have been self-isolating in recent weeks, but several innovative methods have been bringing many together online.

Local musician Baby Brian Weadick has been among those trying to build community connections among Yellowknifers during self-isolation as the result of the coronavirus. He said people now have more time to create music.
photo courtesy of Baby Brian Weadick

Baby Brian Weadick, a popular local musician and guitar teacher, has over the last year started songwriting challenges to inspire budding artists to create their own songs.

He said a four-week songwriting challenge that he began at the beginning of March in a Facebook group called Songwriting Challenge March 2020 has grown in the last week or two as people have found more time to devote to music creation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19, the majority of GNWT workers were required to start working from home.

The past month has also seen a major blow to the arts community after Snowking’s Winter Festival and the Long John Jamboree, both of which had many musical acts lined up, suspended their activities.

“When COVID-19 happened, I think there was so much stress and anxiety. Because of that and people working less or not being able to do normal things, they were not necessarily writing songs and were watching the world,” Weadick said.

“Last week and now this week even, a lot more people have been settling into self-isolation, maybe, and putting more into their creative energy. People that I didn’t think would participate much I found were commenting and writing and posting songs and encouraging others to be creative. I think many have come to realize that if (they) had this free time they would be doing something like this (songwriting).”

Even though Weadick says some of the themes and tones of the music are “a bit dark” in relation to feelings about the current pandemic, he says it’s positive to be able to create an online community while trying to cultivate musical talent.

He said the practice also gives people “structured activities” that can help keep their minds off of negative things.

The efforts to connect community isn’t just limited to music either.

Others are connecting with things like yoga and online beading.

Brie O’Keefe, a local yoga instructor, began offering Facebook live sessions of bedtime yoga to help people relax. She said she has seen an increase in popularity because people are seeking to connect with someone familiar. People have been connecting from as far away as Texas, Calgary, Kenya and London, England.

“I think (people) want to see someone they know and feel connected and grounded to either me as a Yellowknifer or me as their friend from far away,” O’Keefe said. “I think the first class was lots of people tuning in for the novelty, the second and third had lower attendance, and now the fourth (on Sunday) was much larger. The more I do, the more people are aware and its not just my friends doing it.”

She said doing yoga online is different from doing it live and in-person.
“I can’t read the energy in the room, so I can’t see if people are understanding my instructions, or if I’ve made the class too easy or too hard,” said O’Keefe. “But I have also been participating in classes and I know it makes a difference, knowing others are doing it with you, as opposed to doing it alone.”


Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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