Top stories of 2021: our year in review

It was another challenging year for many Canadians, but, as we end the year, we look back at some of the favourite and most read Red Cross blog posts from this past year.

Despite it all, this year brought about inspiring and touching stories that resonated with our readers. We looked at the most popular stories from 2021 and brought them together for us to enjoy again as we end 2021.
 
Friendly Call program brings Canadians together

A woman sitting at a table with a phone to her earShared at the beginning of the year in January, this story discusses how the Friendly Call program has been connecting Canadians, even more so during the pandemic where the need for psycho-social support has increased.

The program pairs specially trained volunteers with isolated Canadians for weekly phone calls to provide support, companionship, and links to resources in the community.

 “It brings me companionship, something to look forward to each week,” says program participant Ruth. “Conversation really brightens my day.”

 
Doctor from Ecuador helps lead Red Cross response to COVID-19
A woman in a Red Cross vest smiling at the camera
We understand the popularity of this story which details the life of an international medical graduate who came to Canada in 2015.

Doctor Denisse Borbor, a public health care advisor for the Canadian Red Cross, shares what it was like to lead epidemic, prevention and control teams on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

“I have learned that I am very capable of doing anything that I put my mind to,” says Denisse, following her shift at a long-term care home in Quebec.

 
Art in hard times – Young artists use creativity to cope with COVID-19

A collage of artwork depicting colourful pieces of Indigenous artistryStunning artwork likely drew the eye to this story, but it also describes how non-profit Art Not Shame successfully applied to the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund administered by the Canadian Red Cross, recognizing the increased need for mental health support during the pandemic. Many talented artists collaborated in “The Mural Project: Art in Hard Times”.

“The thing that keeps me most grounded in and excited about this work is creating relationships,” says Michelle Peek, Executive Director and Founder of Art Not Shame.

 
Volunteering in mental health while studying to become a doctor

A woman smiling at the camera with white backgroundThis inspiring story describes how Wegdan Rashad Abdelmoemin, an international medical graduate, with training in psychiatry and mental health, currently studying to get licensed as a doctor in Canada, became a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross in the Community Health and Wellness Department.

“During my surgery rotations, I would observe that when patients were sad or lonely, they did not recover as quickly as patients who were in good spirits and had supportive people around them,” says Wegdan.

 
Community ties shine in Red Cross assistance to Saskatchewan family displaced by fire

Three people in winter hats crowd together for a photo outsideProviding support to those affected by personal disasters, such as a house fire or flood, is one of the primary services provided by the Canadian Red Cross.

This story describes a harrowing night for the Pettitt family in Saskatchewan who experienced a house fire – as well as community support.

“I feel so fortunate because your brain isn’t thinking at all,” says Mark Pettitt, “It was so nice to have someone there looking after everything so we could do a few things, like call our insurance company.” 


Women in Leadership: Carmen Ferrer

Carmen in a blue shirt and colourful necklace smiling at the cameraAs Head of Emergency Operations, Carmen Ferrer is responsible for managing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) regional response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America.

It is her job to help meet the needs of people who have lost much due to these hurricanes.

“It’s not only the percentage of women in leadership positions, but also the true respect and belief that we are there because we must be,” says Carmen, “We must, to have higher diversity in opinions and visions, to reach every sphere that we’re working with.”


Knitting through COVID-19, and through Red Cross history

An archival photo of a group of women sitting around a table knittingOur colleague Anna wrote about her experiences dealing with isolation during the pandemic and how certain activities helped her mental health, such as knitting. With even more time on her hands, she wondered how knitting helped others throughout history and, here, shares her research.

“During the First and Second World Wars, small booklets with knitting patterns were distributed across Canada. Women used the patterns to make much-needed items for soldiers and civilians who were impacted by the conflicts and the Canadian Red Cross distributed them...an estimated 750,000 volunteers knit 50 million items during WWII alone.”

Red Cross aide offers friendship in long-term care home

Kara in a care facility with goggles and mask onThis is the story of Kara Schiestel who worked as an Emergency Care Support Aide with the Canadian Red Cross in a long-term care home in Manitoba.

The Saskatchewan resident went to Winnipeg to provide much-needed social support for residents, enabling care home staff to focus on other needs of the residents.

“I decided that it was an opportunity to help. I think our seniors are very vulnerable through this all so to be able to help them in any way was the way to go,” says Kara.

 

Top stories for practical tips


There were many popular stories relating to practical tips and advice for various aspects of life this past year: coping with loneliness, beating winter blues, disaster preparedness for expecting parents, tips for parents who are feeling overwhelmed, and more.

Here are the most popular of these stories from 2021:
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