Nedeea Siwallace and her partner, Carlos Andy, with their children Shakira 14, Dre 10, and Tamacia 4 (photo submitted)

Nedeea Siwallace and her partner, Carlos Andy, with their children Shakira 14, Dre 10, and Tamacia 4 (photo submitted)

Bella Coola family shares COVID-19 experience to help fight stigma associated with virus

Nedeea Siwallace and her partner decided that being honest was the best way to keep everyone safe

Coping with the challenges of being diagnosed with COVID-19 is challenging enough, but the fishbowl of a small town can make especially difficult to avoid the stigma and fear associated with the illness, even when you do everything right.

Nedeea Siwallace tested positive for COVID-19 and her partner exhibited the same symptoms, but ultimately tested negative. They decided to be completely transparent about it in an attempt to both protect and inform the community.

“I feel the only way we are going to get through this is honesty with each other and ourselves,” said Siwallace. “We took this really seriously as we didn’t want to pass this on to anyone else in the community.”

Siwallace said her COVID-19 symptoms were so mild that she initially thought she was just experiencing the symptoms of being a parent to young children.

“I got a cold in December and didn’t really think anything of it,” she shared. “I was tired off and on but I’ve been home with my kids for four weeks, of course I’m going to be tired.”

Two of Siwallace’s three children had been ill in early December, but also exhibited very mild symptoms. Since the family was staying at home regardless, Siwallace didn’t have them tested right away. However, once her and her partner began to also show symptoms, she decided she had better have it done.

“I got the positive result on Jan. 10 and I was shaking, I was nervous and upset,” said Siwallace. “I was really worried about anyone I had been in contact with.”

Even though her contagious period had ended prior to that, on Dec. 29, Siwallace still stayed in isolation after the fact as she was worried about passing it on. Since then her and her family has been cleared by Vancouver Coastal Health to end their isolation, but rejoining society hasn’t been exactly easy.

“Everyone is looking at you for testing positive,” she said. “I understand it’s really scary and people are fearful, but I’ve had some people tell me that they are afraid to get tested because of the shame.”

Siwallace said some of her family members were pulled aside when doing shopping for her and family.

“I felt awful, I didn’t want to pass this around,” Siwallace said. “When I was out of isolation and I went to run a few errands I felt nervous about the way people were looking at me.”

Siwallace said she decided to share her story after other people commented they had felt the same way, and she felt that being honest with one another was the best way to stop COVID from spreading. It seems that approach has been working; locally the cases have dropped from a high of 63 down to just four in the past week, a major achievement for this small community.

“Some people did everything they could to help and we really appreciated that,” Siwallace said. “I know how much this virus scares people but we all need to be honest with one another right now.”

Siwallace says she has no idea where the family contracted it and while she still has a few lingering symptoms, both her and her family have all almost fully recovered..

“I still have a cough but the doctors said it could linger for weeks to months, but you are OK to be in public if you are cleared by Vancouver Coastal Health, just keep following the protocols of washing hands,” she said. “In the spring we were so scared we didn’t even see anyone for weeks, so right now we are just feeling grateful that we have all recovered so well.”

Read More: Active COVID cases drop to four; schools re-open for face-to-face instruction

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The 2021 numbers for Quesnel are low through two months. (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Quesnel keeping COVID spread low in 2021 so far

The local health region has the lowest per capita numbers in Northern Health

Cariboo Ski Touring Club director Ron Watteyne stands alongside new chairs and a motorized projector screen, two of the upgrades recently installed in their lodge. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel ski centre improves hosting capabilities

Cariboo Ski Touring Club lodge upgrades due to community foundation grant

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

Grant Johannesen, Colin Carmichael, Bob Zimmerman, Wade Sharp, Eric Lowe from Quesnel Search and Rescue were on hand to pick up a donated trailer from Steve Rutledge, owner of Chemo RV. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Donated trailer could unlock Quesnel Search and Rescue’s potential

The 20-foot long trailer from Chemo RV could pave the way for snowmobiles

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read