How disagreements over vaccination and COVID-19 have ripped apart these Alberta families

As Thanksgiving approaches, some families will probably be sharing their love for each other by sitting down for dinner — or maybe a bodily distanced gathering, a FaceTime name, possibly dropping off meals.

But the identical cannot be mentioned for all — some members of the family will not be talking to one another this vacation season.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began a yr and a half in the past, it is had lasting impacts on companies, the health-care system and relationships.

The query of whether or not some industries will survive or be the identical post-pandemic can be true for some families.

CBC News reached out to some Calgarians about whether or not differing opinions on COVID-19 and vaccines have weighed closely on their relationships.

After talking with a wide range of sources, one factor is definite: A lot of these relationships won’t be in a superb place as soon as the pandemic is over.

Jasmine Lee Boutin, a 46-year-old dwelling in Westlock, Alta., says each she and her mom are vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, whereas two of her grownup daughters aren’t.

But her foremost fear is for her grandchildren, who’re all beneath the age of 10.

“There’s been a lot of arguments and fights over trying to get them to realize the importance of being vaccinated, not only for themselves but for their children. Trying to get them to understand the possibility that they could pass away, leaving their children without parents,” she mentioned.

WATCH | How to navigate Thanksgiving with family members who aren’t vaccinated:

Navigating Thanksgiving with unvaccinated relatives

Ian Hanomansing speaks to two Canadians about how they are navigating Thanksgiving with their unvaccinated relatives and the difficult conversation they are forced to have. 6:54

Nothing’s gotten through to them, and Boutin says it’s now affected her relationship with her daughters and they rarely get together.

“We don’t have the barbecues. We don’t have Christmas. We don’t do birthdays. We do nothing other than for myself and my mom.”

And while she is frustrated with their decisions, it’s rooted in worry for their well-being.

“In the last 18 months, I’ve worried, I think more than I ever have, because I don’t know if I’m going to get that call that they’re in the hospital with COVID,” Boutin said. “And it might be the last time I see them.”

Conspiracy theories and misinformation

Danielle Barnsley, a mother of two from Leduc, Alta., says she doesn’t speak to her parents anymore due to their beliefs around COVID-19 and refusal to get vaccinated.

She says her parents, who are in their 60s, fell victim to conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease.

“My mother very particularly got into more racist beliefs about where COVID-19 came from and why it was being spread, and that it was actually just a hoax,” Barnsley said.

“Our conversations became really, really strained because there was like an overarching anger when I would challenge some of their beliefs with actual fact.”

The arguments became too much for Barnsley, leading her to cut off contact a few months ago for her mental health.

“There’s relief, in some ways, because it’s exhausting fighting against conspiracy…. I don’t know that everybody has the fortitude to continue talking when it’s just blatant misinformation that they’re only willing to accept.”

Looking toward the future, Barnsley says she’s unsure whether she will ever have a relationship with her parents.

“One of the things that I’m learning with this pandemic is that we aren’t going back to the way things used to be, and I think it’s going to impact family relationships,” she said.

“When you see the worst somebody has to offer and how far gone they go, how do you come back from that?”

‘I’m adamant that I don’t want the vaccine’

Chanse Mackinnon, a 25-year-old from Calgary, says he doesn’t have plans to get vaccinated.

“I’m adamant that I don’t want the vaccine. I feel that to a degree, the science is there to prove your natural immunity,” he said, adding that he had COVID-19 last December.

Health experts and government officials, such as Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping, have refuted similar claims. Copping told a news conference last week that while getting infected with COVID-19 gives some “natural immunity,” there’s uncertainty as to how long it lasts and that immunization provides greater protection.

WATCH | Discuss vaccines with family at Thanksgiving, expert says:

Discuss COVID-19 vaccines with household this Thanksgiving, says skilled

Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, says Thanksgiving is a chance to speak with members of the family about getting the COVID-19 shot. 7:33

Mackinnon says his alternative to remain unvaccinated has led to some heated arguments together with his sister, who’s vaccinated and has three youngsters at house beneath the age of 13.

“She still was reluctant to talk to me and have me over. And that was quite frustrating to have to deal with your own family not wanting to even see you.”

While the 2 siblings nonetheless speak on the cellphone, their relationship has modified.

“It puts a wedge in the sense that I feel like we don’t talk the same as we used to…. Before all of this, I felt completely comfortable when I could talk to her and say anything I wanted to,” Mackinnon mentioned.

“Now when I’m around … I feel like I have to really watch what I’m saying.”

He says he is hopeful that after this all blows over, COVID-19 and vaccines will not be as scorching of a subject anymore, however generally he has his doubts he’ll see his sister’s household once more.

“I got three nieces and nephews that are all grown up and I was very involved in their life before, and I feel like now it’s kind of dropped out,” he mentioned.

Mackinnon says it is a scenario he by no means thought would occur inside his household.

“We’ve always had our small differences in terms of like politics and like maybe a little bit of religious views,” he mentioned.

“But whether you’re vaxxed or not, I don’t think that it should be wedging families like it does.”

Psychologist weighs in

Joshua Madsen, a senior psychology teacher on the University of Calgary, says whereas the pandemic has been a silver lining and led to extra time spent collectively for some households, it is led to isolation for others.

“The pandemic has probably impacted vulnerable unions more. It has just created additional stressors, or brought into full-release difficulties that were already there in that relationship.”

Madsen compares it to the election of Donald Trump within the United States in 2016 and the menace it brought on to household unity.

Joshua Madsen, a senior psychology teacher on the University of Calgary, says setting boundaries with members of the family could assist relationships final all through the pandemic. (Submitted by Joshua Madsen)

“It’s no longer about you being a Republican and me being a Democrat,” he mentioned in regards to the former U.S. president’s rise.

“It almost revises my view of you, that you could stand behind this person who has said these things about immigrants, women.”

Madsen says it is a related case with polarizing viewpoints round vaccines and COVID-19.

“I’m not just lukewarm on vaccination, you know. I’m going to get it because I believe in the science and I believe this is the best thing to keep me safe. And I think it’s the best thing to do to keep my community safe,” he mentioned.

Having somebody you’re keen on oppose these views can create “distress tolerance,” which the psychologist describes as a scenario if you cannot change the way in which that you just or the opposite individual thinks a few scenario.

“Part of this distress tolerance is: Can I give up that fight and can I cultivate goodwill in this relationship? Can I extract from it? You know what I can enjoy from it, so can I stay close to this person?”

Five years from now, when COVID-19 could also be within the rearview mirror, Madsen says it is arduous to say whether or not these relationships will probably be mounted.

“Every family situation is different. But I think we’re all under, around the world, similar pressures — including family tensions — for a number of reasons during the pandemic. And, you know, with the advent of the vaccine, here’s a new opportunity for attention or risks in families, which is really sad.”

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