Ottawa-based radio personality and author Guddi Sharma started writing as an outlet to express how she was feeling during the pandemic. She soon wondered how others were coping with the spring lockdown.
“We were in lockdown and off work,” Sharma says. “There was nothing to do at home, so I was writing to keep busy. I said, ‘Why not put out a request for submissions for an anthology?’”
Published in December 2020 by the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum and the Media Club of Ottawa, COVID-19 Chronicles: Reflections on the 2020 Pandemic is a collection of articles, poetry and short stories that illustrate what life has been like in a year most will never forget.
In 2008, Sharma started the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum to create a space for journalists to have a cross-cultural exchange and connect with mainstream media.
The book, which featured 36 works from authors of various cultural backgrounds, is also officially stamped in history, as part of the City of Ottawa Archives. As a limited edition series, 100 copies were printed for distribution.
“We didn’t turn anyone away. It was a fantastic experience to get all of these submissions. Some of them were first-time writers and others were established, so it was an exciting experience for all of us.”
The collection dives into the social and political global events that marked 2020, including striving to stay connected during isolation, the pandemic’s impact on elders and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
For Sharma, the collection is most importantly a resource for others, not just to connect those who are currently experiencing the pandemic, but to document this time for future generations to understand the past from personal perspectives.
“That was the crux of this project,” Sharma says. “These children will wonder how we spent our time in 2020. It’s documented evidence of this year.”
Sharma stresses that she hopes readers won’t underestimate the power of kindness during difficult times and reflect on how they can better support their community going forward.
“I want them to leave with the question of what we can do better,” Sharma says. “How can we stay patient and happy at home?”
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