VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Families separated by the 19-month-long closure of the Canada-U.S. border are planning reunions, looking forward to hugs and in-person visits as soon as next month.
The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March of 2020, taking a toll on those with loved ones who live across the line.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed plans on Thursday to allow fully vaccinated Americans into Canada again by as early as mid-August. He said if vaccination rates keep getting higher, fully immunized travellers from around the world could begin arriving in Canada as of early September.
Garrick Perry proposed to his now-wife at Peace Arch Park, the day the border closure was announced — the pandemic swiftly changing his plans as it did for so many.
“She had to wait the next day to get the ring, it was a whole debacle, but it was one for a lifetime,” he says.
“It definitely wasn’t a normal, normal proposal.”
They were married at the park in August, and Perry hasn’t seen his parents who live in Washington State since he moved to Canada to be with his new bride.
“It’s going to be a huge sigh of relief to be able to embrace them and give them hugs, to just be with my family. I know that my wife is eager to see them again and. It’s a big, big weight off of everybody’s shoulders that we can actually see family again — and not just at a small park on the border,” he says.
“We’ll probably have a beer with my dad and, hug my mom.”
Perry says he knows he’s not the only one who is relieved and thrilled that an end appears in sight for some border restirctions.
“It was almost like winning the lottery, I had so many emotions. I was full of happiness and just joy,” he says.
“I know when the pandemic hit there’s a ton of people that were at the border and seeing their family and friends across the border at the Peace Arch. Honestly, I’m just so happy that people can reunite with their families.”
Adora Pederson’s daughter was three months old on Christmas of 2019, which was the last time family members from both sides of the border gathered.
Pederson’s husband’s family lives in Washington State, as do her cousins.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen anybody, and it’ll be nice to be able to see our family and have my daughter get to know her uncles and the other side of the family,” she says.
“Having that time together is so important and to have a toddler being able to get to know her family … to build that relationship and make those memories is super important. Being able to introduce my daughter to family members and friends and their babies has been something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
While it’s not yet clear when British Columbians will be able to resume cross-border leisure trips, Pedersen says she’s going to get her duaghter’s passport so the family will be ready and able to travel as soon as it’s allowed.
“We would love to go down, we love road-tripping, going down to Seattle, seeing the sights. It’s kind of like an easy second home for us to go to visit. We love seeing the Mariners play. So it will just be fantastic.”
While she admits she’s “not much of a hugger,” being able to embrace family she hasn’t seen in more than a year and a half is something she is very much looking forward to.
“It’s definitely something I am missing in some way. Some sort of physical contact would be nice,” she says.
“I’m positive, I’m optimistic things are going the right way with vaccination rates going up, people doing their part. I’ll really appreciate being able to see people again, more often. It just makes me happier.”