Power outage leads to powerful connections!

Those of us that have lived in Winnipeg are used to crazy weather, cold winter storms, and more snow than most people are prepared to deal with. In fact, it is a point of pride to claim you have survived a Winnipeg winter. I believe this common connection has lead to us being such a friendly city. You can start a conversation with just about anyone with the simple sentence, “How about that weather, eh?”

While we had all heard the warnings for days that an early snowstorm was headed our way, it was easy to believe that it would not be so bad – especially as many of us were still wearing shorts in the days beforehand! By Friday morning, we had received unprecedented snow falls and our province declared a state of emergency with power lines down. Working with international students, I was able to experience this through their unique perspective and discover what people do when there is no power and no access to technology.

Manitoba’s power outage provided a well-timed break from technology and many commented how it brought them closer together as a family and has been one of their favourite memories since they arrived in Canada. They shared with me some tips that they used and the fun that they had by getting creative.

One family decided that it was the perfect time to get outside and embrace the weather! While their student was a little hesitant at first, she soon found joy in building her first snowman, having a snowball fight with the neighbours, and making snow angels. Remember to bundle up warm so that you can fully enjoy the fun!

If you have a fireplace, use it! One of our families brought the experience of camping right into their living room by starting up the fire. They roasted marshmallows and hot dogs, warmed up their hands and feet, and told ghost stories to each other to pass the time. Afterwards, they brought out some paper and everyone was able to write a letter to someone special talking about the day that they had. This was great keepsake so that they could remember it for years to come.

For some, it was time to dust off the board games and learn something new! They turned their living room into a massive fort with blankets, chairs, and pillows. Once their fort city was built, they set up their board games and lanterns and had hours of fun playing card games, taking over the world in an intense game of Risk, or by sticking to the classics like “Go Fish ” and Solitaire.

In today’s world of technology and distractions from social media and TV shows, it can be difficult to connect with each other when the electricity stops flowing; so I was pleasantly surprised how the lack of electricity brought so many of us together. While I do not wish a power outage on anyone, I couldn’t help but think that this experience may be worth repeating. Perhaps it is worth considering a “digital detox” night each week, where we turn out the lights, tuck away the cell phones and lap tops, and just learning to enjoy each others company – the old way.