Island responses to COVID-19

Over the last couple of weeks, friends at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland have been gathering information from around the world about how islands have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fransceso Sindico, Co-Director of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance, along with colleagues circulated a questionnaire as widely as possible

He prefaced it thus: “Island communities and remote rural mainland communities will suffer the most if Covid19 reaches them. We all know why… large part of elder population and, in most cases, the lack of the specialised health services needed to tackle the pandemic. Scotland is no different and the Scottish Government is actively taking the necessary steps to protect island communities. At the same time, we can always learn something from other islands and their communities and how they are dealing with Covid 19. If you have a moment, can I kindly ask you to answer the 6 questions below to me and Nicola.crook@gov.scot. The goal is to collate and share information of island responses to Covid 19 worldwide in order to better equip those islands who are in the midst of the crisis now and plan better for the future for islands who may suffer the consequences of Covid 19 in the future. Importantly, planning is not just about the immediate action, but also about the long-term recovery.”

The questions

1)      What actions are being taken to protect the island community from Covid 19? In particular, how are travel restrictions being put in place and enforced?

2)      What actions will be taken should people on the island have Covid 19?

3)      What actions are being taken to ensure that essential goods and services are provided to the island community?

4)      What actions are being taken to ensure that people working on the islands, not only in the tourism sector, are sustained financially in the short term and in the long term?

5)      What actions are being taken to ensure the mental well-being of people on the islands?

6)      If you consider it appropriate, feel free to share any data about people who have Covid 19 on your island and of people who, sadly, have passed away because of Covid 19.

7)      Is there anything else you would like to share?


The answers were collected by the Scottish Government who will retain them in a safe place. Together with the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance a database of the answers to the questions above is now available so that as many island communities can learn from each other in this exceptional moment in time.

Dr. Sindico sent around the findings this week, with this note: “If there is one thing we all know by now it is that Covid-19 moves very fast and so does responses thereto. Hence, even if you have already sent information, if you wish to send any update over the next week to the answers you have provided, please do so and we will do our best to amend the document accordingly. And please do not worry if you have not had the time to reply, we are all struggling to cope with the new reality we find ourselves in and there is no need to put more pressure on us.”

He can be reached here: francesco.sindico@strath.ac.uk

A revised document will be available Friday 3 April. Be sure to check back for further details.



Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Island Lecture Series has been cancelled until further notice. We are disappointed we won’t get to hear from guest Irish researcher Rory McCabe, speaking about music from an island in County Mayo.

Entitled “‘It wasn’t a night unless you danced a set!’: Music, change, and community on an Irish island,” the lecture was scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 7 p.m. Rory had arrived on Prince Edward Island, but after going into self-isolation he had to return home to Clare Island almost immediately. Fingers crossed we can get him back another time when things are back to normal.

In the meantime, we continue to work from home; we’ll let you know when the University and our offices are open again. Hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this challenging time, but we are confident that Islander resilience will shine!

Best wishes,
Laurie, Jim, and Bren

The March issue of the Island Studies Newsletter is now online. Check out the latest news in the world of Island Studies!

News from Island Studies Press

Island Studies Press books receive top awards

Listening for the Dead Bells by Marian Bruce received the Publication of the Year Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation at the awards ceremony at Eptek Art & Culture Centre in Summerside on Islander Day, February 17. Each year this prize is awarded to an individual or group responsible for a publication or presentation making a significant contribution to the understanding of any aspect of the heritage of Prince Edward Island. Marian’s collection of folklore about ghosts, witches, seers, and forerunners aims to nurture the storytelling tradition on PEI and inspire others to collect more tales before they are forgotten. Congratulations, Marian!

Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Mammals by Rosemary Curley, Pierre-Yves Daoust, Donald F. McAlpine, Kimberly Riehl, and J. Dan McAskill won the 2020 City of Summerside Culture and Heritage Award – Natural Heritage Activities. The award was given out at the Mayor’s Annual Heritage Tea on February 21. Congratulations to Rosemary and team!

Summerside councillor Carrie Adams and Mayor Basil Stewart present the Natural Heritage Activity Award to Rosemary Curley, who headed up the research and publication of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters alongside collaborators Kimberly Riehl and Pierre-Yves Daoust at City Hall on Friday, February 21. (Photo by Alison Jenkins)

Author and researcher Doug Sobey receives Award of Honour

Dr. Doug Sobey, co-author (with Earle Lockerby) of the award-winning Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy (Island Studies Press, 2015), took home top prize at this year’s PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation Awards: the prestigious Award of Honour. The award was presented in recognition of a lifetime of work studying and sharing the Island’s natural and human heritage.  Recognized for a long career researching the Island’s Acadian Forests, Doug has had a long association with the IIS, serving for many years as a dedicated IIS Research Associate. 

Check out his interview with CBC Radio’s Matt Rainnie on March 2.

John Cousins wins Boyde Beck Memorial Award

John Cousins, IIS Research Associate and author of the award-winning New London: The Lost Dream (Island Studies Press, 2016) took home the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation’s Boyde Beck Memorial Award in recognition of a lifetime of collecting, studying, and sharing folklore. A retired high school history teacher, John taught Island Folklore and Folksongs as part of UPEI’s Minor in Island Studies.

Tenure Stream Position | Island Studies | Faculty of Arts

University of Prince Edward Island
Competition No. 02A20
Application Deadline: March 20, 2020

The Island Studies program at the University of Prince Edward Island welcomes applications for a tenure-stream position in Island Studies. This position builds on the growth of the Island Studies constellation at UPEI, one of the leading global sites for Island Studies scholarship, teaching and public engagement. The academic interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program now has two options for students, a thesis track and a new course and work-study track with specializations in Island Tourism, Sustainable Island Communities and International Relations and Island Public Policy. When the MAIS program is combined with the Institute of Island Studies (IIS), the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, and Island Studies Press, it creates a synergy that lives up to its vision, “To be the leading centre of excellence on issues related to island studies scholarship, public policy and engagement.” Both the MAIS program and the IIS play a pivotal role in Prince Edward Island (PEI) public policy formation, bridging the University and the community. They also serve as a hub for a network of island studies scholars and teachers throughout the world. 


Vital Signs report now available for download

New Vital Signs report provides snapshot of the quality of life on PEI
Publication is a partnership of the Community Foundation of PEI and UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies

A new report from the Community Foundation of PEI (CFPEI) and UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies provides a snapshot of the quality of life and well-being on Prince Edward Island. Vital Signs brings together publicly available research data, the analysis of subject experts, and focus group feedback from private, public, and not-for-profit sectors from different regions of the Island. The result is an easy-to-digest, comprehensive look at a wide range of interconnected topics from health to housing to education and the environment.

“The 2019 PEI Vital Signs report grew from the knowledge and experience of Islanders,” said Kent Hudson, executive director of the CFPEI. “The Community Foundation of PEI will continue to engage with people who care about their communities and each other to collaboratively build new mechanisms for addressing issues identified in the report. We are excited to be a part of building the collective power of philanthropy and civic engagement in PEI.”

“This report can serve as a roadmap for all of us as individuals and as organizations,” said Dr. Jim Randall, chair of the Institute of Island Studies. “After all, many of the best solutions come directly from the communities themselves. At its core, this report is about how Islanders view their own quality of life: what seems to be working and where we need to continue to focus our attention.”

The authors of Vital Signs selected 10 dimensions or themes of quality of life and well-being used in other studies in Canada and internationally, including health and well-being, people and work, housing, the environment, belonging and leadership, poverty, learning and educational attainment, arts and culture, diversity and getting started, and safety and security.

Across subjects, trends became apparent in terms of a gulf between Islanders’ expectations of public services, such as health, and the actual delivery of those services. An increase in hopelessness about the state of the environment, including climate change and sea level rise, was found, especially among youth. The authors also noted feelings of concern about the ability of Islanders to gain meaningful employment and stay on the Island after graduation.

The outlook isn’t entirely bleak. PEI’s overall economy has been performing well, and the province continues to attract new residents. Islanders also find life less stressful than people in the rest of Canada, in part through a strong sense of belonging to their local community.

Vital Signs is made possible by support from Rotary of Prince Edward Island, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Province of Prince Edward Island.

Vital Signs was distributed November 20 in newspapers across the province. For more information or to receive a print copy, please contact the Community Foundation of PEI at info@cfpei.ca.


Our vision:

  • to be the leading centre of excellence on issues related to island studies scholarship, public policy, and engagement.

Our mandate:

  • To encourage a deep knowledge, understanding, and expression of Prince Edward Island;
  • To serve as a bridge between the University and Island communities;
  • To contribute to the formulation of public policy in Prince Edward Island;
  • To undertake and facilitate island studies research and education at local, national, and global scales.




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