COVID-19 splits Canadian-American family


By Katelyn Thomson

It’s been almost nine months since I last saw my grandparents because of COVID-19 border restrictions between Canada and the United States.

My family is one of mixed Canadian and American citizenships. We’re a short drive from my grandparents, who live across the border in Buffalo, New York. With the current border restrictions, that 35-minute drive is quite difficult. Adjusting to this new normal is a challenge facing families across the globe, with 91 per cent of people living in a country with restricted border travel, according to Pew Research Center.

Not being able to see my grandparents has been one of the hardest things that I’ve had to go through. They’re staying safe, but I imagine it’s just as hard, if not harder, for them not to be able to see any of us. Because they don’t know how to do any video calls, we’re dealing with just phone calls and it’s just not the same. There’s a certain disconnect when you can’t see the other person’s face and it’s just a voice on the end of the line. It makes the distance feel farther than it really is.

Because of the difficulty of being separated from my grandparents, I’m currently in the process of applying for my American citizenship, something I never really planned to do but seems increasingly necessary. As a Canadian citizen, I am not permitted to cross the border into the U.S with current restrictions. With American citizenship, I’d be able to cross freely, but Canada still mandates the 14-day quarantine when we return. While it’s still difficult to manage my parents getting time off work for the quarantine period, starting the process to get my American citizenship gives me hope for the future and makes me feel like my grandparents are just a little bit closer.