Heritage Abbotsford Journal Project during COVID-19
Updated 05/21 to add downloadable copies of the journal prompts (found at the bottom of the page)

What do Samuel Pepys, Virginia Woolf, and Anne Frank have in common? They all kept meticulous diaries during some of the most tumultuous times of the past centuries.

Not only is journaling a proven benefit for individuals’ mindfulness and mental health, but it also gives the historians of tomorrow a glimpse into the lived experiences of the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

COVID-19 and the disruptions of daily life it’s causing is one of those defining moments in history- other generations in Abbotsford have lived through the World Wars or the Spanish flu, and historians of today pour over the minute accounts of life during those times to better understand how communities and individuals thrived during hardship.

The Costco line-up is ridiculous? The neighbourhood kids drop off presents for their friends who they miss in the local park? Your daily highlights and lows? Your new hobbies and skills? Your work’s new Zoom meetings? We want to hear about it! The glorious kindness of strangers, the mundane schedules of isolation, the loneliness of separation from loved ones are all of interest to us at Heritage Abbotsford.

One day, Abbotsford’s historians will want to read about what you did every day to survive, keep sane, and love others during the most difficult time collectively in decades.

Our friends at the Coquitlam Heritage Society have started the brilliant Journal Project: Capturing History Unfolding (https://www.coquitlamheritage.ca/the-journal-project#faq) in order to record the experiences of local residents and their experiences in this time of COVID-19.

They’ve kindly agreed to let us borrow the idea for YOU, Abbotsford residents, so that you can also document your life in any way you wish, in any language, with any length. We would love to have your donated journal, but we also want you to feel free to keep it if you wish for your family’s commemoration too! This exercise is open to all ages. Children are welcome to also donate their own journal or a compiled family journal.

Some ideas are to:
-create lists of activities
-write down the prompts we at Heritage Abbotsford provide
-draw illustrations
-write poetry
-record an original song
-set up a Zoom interview with Heritage Abbotsford, to dictate their COVID-19 experiences, contact info has@heritageabbotsford.ca

Some tips:
-Be as specific as possible! You may not think it’s interesting that the local grocery store opened an hour early for the elderly to shop, but in fifty years, those kinds of tidbits really are!
-Write down the date and time at the top of the journal entry.
-Keep the journal bound- it isn’t easy for us to archive if it’s loose paper.

What happens next?
Donate them in a week, months later, or post weekly updates on social media with the hashtag #AbbotsfordHistory2020.

Below are some journal prompts for adults, teenagers, and children. Please feel free to write the answers down daily, once in a while, or make your own up!

Journal Prompts for Adults:
-What are your daily highlights and lows?
-Where do you live in Abbotsford? Has your neighbourhood noticeably changed since the pandemic started?
-What acts of local kindness have you experienced or noticed in the community?
-Are there any individuals/groups/businesses from Abbotsford that you admire during this time?
-What do you think about Canada’s/BC’s/Abbotsford’s policies and leadership during the pandemic? Do you think they are doing a good job in comparison to the rest of the world? Why or why not?
-Do you feel more or less connected to other people during this time?
-Has the pandemic affected your work? If so, how?
-Have you felt fearful or sad since the pandemic started? What are some ways you have found peace?
-Have you learnt a new skill or hobby since self-isolating?
-Do you have children? How has your family unit adjusted?
-If you were diagnosed with COVID-19, what was your experience?
-Set a timer for five minutes, and write down everything you see, smell, hear, and touch during that time period.

Journal Prompts for Teenagers:
-What was your daily highlights and lows?
-Has social distancing impacted your social life? If so, how?
-Have you learned any new skills or started any hobbies?
-What are five things you are grateful for?
-How has your family adjusted to self-isolation?
-How are you connecting with friends?
-How do you think Canada is responding to the pandemic? Are adults following the rules? What about your peers?
-What was your reaction to the public schools in BC closing? Are you enjoying online schooling? Why or why not?
-Where do you live in Abbotsford? Has your neighbourhood noticeably changed since the pandemic started?
-What acts of local kindness have you experienced or noticed in the community?
-Are there any individuals/groups/businesses from Abbotsford that you admire during this time?
-What would you like to see Abbotsford become in fifty years?
-Set a timer for five minutes, and write down everything you see, hear, smell, or touch in that time frame.

Journal Prompts for Children:
-What was the most fun you had today?
-Did anything make you sad today?
-If you got to make three wishes, what would they be?
-What are five things that made you happy today?
-Has your school changed? Do you like going to school from home?
-How are you staying connected with your friends?
-Do you have any pets? If so, what do they do every day?
-What do you think Abbotsford was like a hundred years ago in the olden days?
-What do you think Abbotsford is going to be like in 50 years in the future?
-Have you learned any new games or started any new hobbies since staying at home?
-Set a timer for five minutes, and write down everything you see, hear, smell, or touch in that time frame.

New Journal Prompts (Added 05/21):
-How do you feel about Phase 2 starting in BC? Are you excited to go to your favourite businesses and see more people?
-Are you feeling nervous about places reopening?
-What’s something you are looking forward to doing this Summer?
-Are you discovering new skills during this time of COVID?


Want more information?
We’re happy to answer anymore questions as soon as you can- just email has@heritageabbotsford.ca

4 Responses

  1. COVID-19 didn’t change my life. My life changed over a decade ago when I got a severe disabling illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. After 10 years sick, I excel at staying home and social isolation. Sure, I am scared that my compromised immune system means that a COVID-19 infection would be deadly for me.

    There are some minor inconveniences for shopping. If I see a long line, I just go to another store. I physically can’t stand in lines for very long. The special hours are useless for me as it takes me many hours in the morning to get ready to go out and that is if I am having a good day.

  2. The current situation hasn’t changed much for me & my wife either! I already work from home and my wife is taking care of 4 residents at Communitas here in Abbotsford. They have taken extra measures & precautions to make the environment safer! As for groceries, we changed our tune a bit. Normally, we go to SaveOn (and still do) but more & more we visit smaller ones to avoid the number of people, like Little Green Apple. We like to support the local economy.
    We keep our social distances of course. For me, I don’t interact with people that much and since my workplace is home, there is no threat. I do lots of activities outdoors like hiking, biking & running. But I choose places where there are hardly people around.
    I don’t see a change in kindness whatsoever….already experienced that before the pandemic. The people here at Bourquin Crescent are friendly and dedicated letting their voice heard at 7.00 PM when they show respect for the first responders and all the people who work in the health sector and related jobs.
    I am not afraid right now or in the near future. I was raised in an optimistic and positive family in the Netherlands who survived WW2. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the world will look different from what we’ve known. I see it like the world needs a “reset”. More awareness of the environment and respect one another more.
    I started to learn the acoustic guitar from scratch and do lots of cardio/strength exercises. I would like to see Abbotsford in 50 years in a downtown car-free area (exceptions are delivery trucks and first responders) and a net of bike-paths.

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