A look inside Canadians lives during a pandemic
I just went back and I looked at the past six months of heads of this show. I went back to the very beginning of this pandemic because I wanted to see who we've talked to which voices we've relied on on the subject of covid nineteen and its impacts. We've heard from doctors. Obviously we've heard from epidemiologists from vaccine experts. We've heard from professors and researchers in areas from architecture to die to productivity and human resources to the economy and to climate science and a whole bunch more. And they've told us how covid nineteen will change almost every big thing about our lives. And of course, we've heard from reporters and political pundits and analysts about the response to the virus from various levels of government help pick and how fast and how thorough was. How will that response go over with voters? What will it mean for the next election? All that stuff. And through all of that as I looked back at our episodes, I realize that we really haven't stopped to talk to many regular Canadians who are just trying to live their lives in these quote unquote unprecedented times. Canadians who are just trying to figure out how all of that big picture stuff but I just talked about. How much of that will actually matter as they go about their days. So just had my doctor's appointment and. Everything is great. Maybe kink saw emotional because there's lots of new rules of visitors. and. It's just not expected for welcoming. Help every day just like. Activities of daily living getting dressed getting in out of bed being. Having close of business bit s small business and you have bills to pay rents to bid for the business monthly that it's been Berridge other people are getting upset and now they're threatening to do things to stop members. My husband had to go to work because he's an essential service worker because you need your cable and somewhere two weeks he contracted the Coleman. We didn't really stop to do that kind of journalism and maybe we should have fortunately for us though. Somebody. Else did it for us. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big. Story. Pat Teeny is a producer and a reporter at city news of the key people working on the documentary going viral, which airs Monday night tonight on city TV stations across the country. Hello, Pat. Hey, how are you? Jordan thanks so much for having me I'm doing really well, thanks and why don't you just start by? Explaining what the project is I touched on it a little bit in my intro but kind of line what you're doing here. Sure. So going viral is a documentary produced by city TV it follows the journeys of several Canadians as they navigated through the past few months during the covert pandemic, really an in-depth up close and personal look at their lives. Their mindset says they in some cases, face huge obstacles and challenges during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. So we followed them from the beginning of the pandemic. Through several months of the first half of the lockdown and pandemic as well. Where did that idea come from? Why did you approach it that way? Well, we wanted to go beyond the headlines Initially City had launched a documentary series and we were all set to go. This was back in January with several different topics and then covert hit and the world turned upside down. Co vid obviously the big story of twenty twenty and we wanted to go beyond the stories that were already being told as you know, Jordan hundreds of stories out there have been done covert and its impacts but we wanted to go deeper not only tell these stories but dive into the lives of those it is impacted and what their day to day life is like what they're seeing through their lenses where you were able to capture their emotions and reactions in real times as they were the. Ones who are actually documenting the journey for us. Yet tell me about that because my next question was going to be, how do you get intimate of views of Canadians live you're not allowed to go anywhere near them, and that's the was the hardest part of this documentary. So typically with a documentary and how we filmed these, we send in a camera crew. We send an audio teams producers obviously with the lockdown and social distancing rules that was impossible's we were unable to do that. So we had to ask these contributors those that we sought out and found to document their own lives. So they're already going through tremendous struggles through all of this because we picked very unique characters that were going through something extraordinary. So we said we found them on social media or they might have posted something that was interesting like, Hey, you've got a great story. Would you mind doing a little bit more and taking it a step further when we set a step further met a huge step further because we're asking them to balance everything they were already juggling. To take a cell phone camera and document their journeys for us. Do. Video. Diaries. Show us what they're seeing on a day to day life inside their homes inside their businesses we wanted. A The view through their lens of what they were experiencing, how they were feeling, and some of the emotions they were going through during the process. How completely did their lives changed from the time you started following them until the time you wrapped the documentary and may be varied by person but I'd love to get a sense of you. Know you mentioned at the beginning turned everything upside down what went upside down four well depends on which character we're talking about but. You know it went upside down on many different levels for different people. So you know for instance, we follow a woman who has was expecting her first child and for the first part of her pregnancy everything was normal. because. It was pre- covid and then cove it hit she would take her mom to the doctor's Office for checkups she would take her husband but that hall had to change. So she had to now go through this alone and it was hard for her very hard for her so we saw her and she's very candidate and raw about the emotion she was feeling having to do this alone now it's still emotional because there's lots of new rules with visitors. It's just not what I expected for welcoming Davey and she felt very isolated and mercer just concerned about keeping my family safe and also wanting them to see the be I just don't know what the right thing to do is. we follow a nurse in Calgary who's on the front lines in an emergency department there you see my eyes. because. That's all I can see when I have a new patient in front of me and things drastically changed for her because she was so used to as a nurse having that one on one contact with patients being able to comfort them, rub their back. If something I've never experienced in my whole career and I've never had people's I colors. And I expressions. Burned into my mind so badly. We see all the emotion, all the fear, all the sadness the people's families can't be with them and it's absolutely heartbreaking. She's dealing with patients who have no access to family members because they can't go into the emergency department anymore, and then she is faced with all these challenges just to see these patients to give them a glass of water in some cases and she put it took an act of God because they had to isolate these patients behind closed doors and they had to gear up get in. Before they could go in and even talk or deliver a glass of water to these patients. So there's a variety of challenges that will see in this documentary and that we saw unfold as we were following his characters, were there any common themes beyond you know obviously having their lives up ended by Kovic? Were there any common themes that you found No matter? How varied their lives? Were they all were facing those things? Struggle, heartbreak, and resiliency. So struggle and heartbreak in the beginning as we've mentioned, these people facing real hurdles I, it was fascinating to see them sending videos each week and see how they were dealing with so many different things. Yeah. Each of them were able to conquer their fears and I think in the moment were all able to do that when you look at this from the outside, like how did they go through that but when you witness someone going through it? We as humans have that resiliency built in and we fight back and they were able to conquer the heartbreak abor able to try and find some kind of normalcy in a world that really is anything. But normal at this point, how did you get them to keep going through some of that because there's some Some really emotional stuff and some really hard times for the subjects of the dock and I know that if that was me at some point, I would have just said you know what I'm not. I'm not doing my video diary for city TV this week for these characters took building relationships. So. Myself Co producers, Meghan Robinson Christina how're win director Alex McIntosh and our associate producer Jenny paying really had to coach these people through this explaining exactly what we needed being empathetic with them. Telling them. We understand this is difficult. We know you're going through so much but the stories you're going to tell could help Canadians understand. What so many are going through right now and many of them many who will be watching we'll be able to relate to these stories and that really got them to go on the other thing which was very interesting through all of this is these contributors. At first probably thought it was a bit troublesome. But then when they started doing it Jordan and they started to do these video diaries and document their lives, they said, they began to treat their cell phones like a therapist. They felt like they were opening up and getting things outs and to them it was comforting. It helped them. In a sense through the process because they were, we'll talk to talk through their emotions to try and get through this. So that was the most fascinating thing and. The team really developed with the characters we were following. We really developed. Incredible relationships with these people? I can say I've added a few more facebook friends through all of this because we're really talking with them through some of their toughest moments throughout this whole pandemic, and in some cases we were the only ones that they were able to talk to you through all of this and really get out that emotion. Can you give me some examples of some of those sessions that you might have had that that really moved you so I followed a couple. Whose loved one was in a long term care home rocked by Kobe. So my mother's in Ultima Nursing Care She's been there since November and they were desperate for answers in the beginning as people were. Long-term care homes you know were greatly affected some of them in the Toronto Area Montreal area. We're really hit hard by the virus so people were locked out they could not going see their loved ones and they were struggling to find answers and they were frustrated and they were angry. And, this couple of particular their mom had been in a room with someone who tested positive and I was. On. The phone with them minutes after they got the call telling them that their mom's roommate tested positive. Their mom is ninety four years. Old already has a variety of issues and it was so emotional to talk to them at that points when they were feeling so raw and so open and so angry about not being able to get answers as to why their mom was not being moved out of that room and what was being done to ensure that. She wouldn't be the next to become infected. The care is just not there in these homes I know the nurses I know the past ws are doing everything they can, and they're doing an amazing job I. Get at I. Believe it's upper management at is telling them what they can and cannot do, and it's not enough even though the while she did get infected and we followed them through that process well and to see what they were going through to. Try to understand what they were feeling was challenging but at the same time, very eye opening and you couldn't. Not feel absolutely horrible for these people and try and be a voice of comfort and try and. Tell them and pitch stories to the newsroom to try and get these answers. For them so they could find some kind or get some kind of sleep that night but It was really really just their story alone for me really hit home I have an elderly mom not in a long term care home Thank goodness but I just felt for them and I was glad that again we were able to provide some sense of comfort to them through all of this I'm going to ask because everybody listening to will want me to Did she did she make you know I I I hate to do this but you'll have to watch the documentary because that's one of the One of the journeys that were following and boilers yeah. Tell me about how could you just touched on it you walk the line between being somebody's helper somebody's coached somebody's therapist and a a journalist WHO's trying to document this at arm's reach because I know especially when you're dealing with no ordinary people who are having. The same regular struggles that thousands of Canadians are having there's gotta be a real drive to do something for them as opposed to just take in their videos. Yes and and there was so I think what you know the idea behind this documentary project was not only do the documentary, but also feed city TV newsroom with with stories. So throughout that when we would be told about something that was happening, let's say in Long Term Care Homes, we would pitch those stories to the newsroom and say, Hey, you got to look out for this. You GotTa try and find answers. These are the questions people who are going through this. Have Right now and want answered. So we were able to to kind of drive news coverage to be able to cover these stories. You know we were one of the first to find out that the military was being deployed to these long term care homes and We we sent a crew right away to try and document that and figure out what they exactly we're going to be doing. So that's how we were able to to help these people out and because as you know this documentary falling over several months, we couldn't just. Get this out right away and get those answers for these people. So we had to use the newsroom kind of as our vehicle to do that part of it for us and there are a lot of. Big Picture angles to covid nineteen in Canada, and we've covered a ton of them on this podcast, and especially when it comes to the government response, you know we we often end up talking to our reporters or columnists or pundits about you know how how this is going in and how that's going and I wonder what? You saw from the average folks on the ground about what they thought about how the government was handling. All of this I wonder if it's any different from the the columns you read in the hot takes Cetera. So a extreme level of frustration because no one has gone through this before and to this level, and we are all government officials included navigating this new. Strain normal and answers changed. Policies changed and these people were going through all of that. So you know another person, we're following a small business owner who's Desperate to keep his doors open, he owns a marketing firm and Even more desperate to not lay off staff or even cut their pay. So he had a lot of questions initially about the loans that were being provided for businesses and he said it I you know loan programs I was applying for I didn't hear anything back. I didn't know how to navigate this new system. There wasn't a lot of help out there. Everyone was kind of left to their own vices trying to figure out what was happening how they were going to be helped. What was being done to keep them safe keep their employees save keep their family safe. We followed parents who are home-schooling their kids trying to figure that whole thing out with online learning. So there are a variety of things that that people were struggling to find out on their own, and they really felt that there could have been more answers provided to them in more help provided to them whether it be from health officials, government officials throughout this whole. Thing you touched on it a tiny bit when you mentioned the small business owner but I wanted to ask you about how they felt specifically about the aid programs that the government got running really fast but may or may not have been enough r be in particular Did these folks use them? Did they find them adequate and if not, where did they fall short? So I will tell you they. They did find them adequate again in the beginning there was some frustration over how to get through it but once they were able to get through what they did find that it was quite helpful and was able to keep them running. And able to keep this man's employees paid because a little bit of a spoiler alert. Too. Much He did have to cut their pay and what you'll see in this documentary is that incredible and emotional conversation he had to have those employees on us whom call that day when he had to cut their pay a looking at what revenue we're going to be having an April and May. Were not going to be able to sustain the full payroll I. Need Your help and she breaks down. And is incredibly upset that he has to have this tough conversation with them but he kept them on board and he was able to keep them on board because of the loan programs and the wage subsidies that were provided by by the government. So he in the end was incredibly thankful for that and they found it very helpful before I let you go. I also wanted to ask you you know how is this entire process informed your reporting on Cove Ed? Because as I mentioned, you know we talked to Pundits and analysts of we've talked to doctors and epidemiologists, and we we constantly talk about the big picture of Covid and Canada, and I wonder how that changes when you have constant access to to people who are just trying to live their lives and get through this. Yeah. Well, you see the other side again, it's going beyond the headlines going beyond a few sound. You're seeing their day today life and you're seeing that that real raw emotion of what they're going through in real time, which was incredibly eye opening. I've been a journalist for several years. I've not had this access to people before. So it really opened my eyes to see. Okay. This is what happens right after I get done interviewing them or this is what happened. Right before I interviewed them often times we as journalists we go after the fact, and then we asked them to rehash what happened. In this case, we were able to see it in real time as it happened and to have that access was incredibly eye opening. At times, I'll be honest was a bit hard in some cases to watch but it just gave us a hole deeper look at how this pandemic, how the subsequent lockdown really impacted not only their mental health but their financial stability, their homes home lives, and how they were able to as human beings navigate this new normal and come out on top and get through this whether the outcome was great or whether the outcome was bad they got through it and yet while I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. Tonight. Thanks so much for doing this patent. Thank you so much Jordan. Appreciate it. Hot. Teeny from city news. You can watch going viral tonight. In Toronto Montreal Vancouver Calgary and Edmonton at nine PM local time, you can watch it at eight PM local time in Winnipeg and Saskatoon catoon. That was the big story for more from US had to the big story podcast. Dot Ca find us on twitter at the big story F. P. N.. Email us at the big story podcast. All one word, all lower case at CI DOT Rogers Dot Com, and of course, subscribe for free wherever, you get your podcasts I don't care which after us as long as you use it to listen to our show. Thanks for listening I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings we'll talk more.