The Returning Rise of Masks

With a potential new Covid threat, our community must band together

Avery Nowicki // Communities Editor

Lauren Howard (She/Her) // Illustrator

*Information in the following article provides statistics last updated on October 17, 2023.

Canada is witnessing rising numbers in positive Covid-19 cases, including raised hospitalizations and Covid-19 related deaths. As a result, some CapU students and faculty have chosen to continue wearing masks on campus, inciting local backlash. 

According to, the national percentage of positive cases has been steadily increasing since July, with the number of hospitalizations due to Covid-19 increasing nationally from October 3 to 10. Deaths due to Covid-19 remain low, though there has been a gradual increase since mid-July, which continues today. 

In terms of variants, the government of Canada currently cites recombinant XBB sub-lineages as the continual dominant variant, equating to 99 per cent of cases in the month of October and end of September. In total, Canada is experiencing 10,218 weekly cases, with 42,117 weekly tests reported. Amidst the cold and flu season, it is not hard to assume why some students may choose to take extra precautions and return to wearing their masks after a mild hiatus. 

Some forms of backlash have existed against students who choose to do so. A student at Phibbs Bus Exchange waiting for the 245 bus to CapU, witnessed a man roll down his window, give her the middle finger, and yell that she stop wearing a mask. 

With the newest vaccine becoming available in Canada this fall, small events like these may resurface, reigniting the debate over for or against vaccination, and for or against mask mandates to enter common discourse once again. In the wake of the original wave of these arguments, what can students and community members on both sides do to ease the inevitable tension? Perhaps there is a way to approach this issue with fact and equal free-will on either side. Though, to understand this, we must first examine where these country-wide arguments left off, and how they continue to be fueled. 

Protesting on either side has dramatically subsided, though the implications of the 2025 election may be a factor in future implications with masks and vaccine mandates causing anger. Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre has been vocal in his views against Covid-19 related mandates. According to CBC’s John Paul Tasker in a quote of former Quebec premier, Jean Charest, “It’s not clear whether Poilievre will procure vaccines for Canadians in a future pandemic,” leaving the door open for future debate.

Overall, B.C. students should remain vigilant on the rise in Covid-19 cases. Take common precautions in this cold and flu season, and aim to express understanding toward students who choose to or not to wear a mask as a preventative measure. We can learn from the heated discourse and mutual hatred of the last three years, and if mandates become a future topic, let us choose to be respectful, kind, and put the health and safety of all people above opposing personal beliefs.

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