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MURRAY SIDING, N.S.
Heidi Barbrick loves singing and moving with people in her Zumba classes.
“I often tell my friends I’m an energy vampire,” said the instructor. “I feed off your energy. So, the crazier you get, the crazier I get.”
Barbrick was born in Truro, moved to Tatamagouche when she was eight, and after living in different parts of the province ended up back in Murray Siding in 1997, raising her two sons in what she calls a “beautiful area of the province” with “community-spirited people.”
After dabbling in the culinary world, raising children and being an educational assistant, in 2008 Barbrick tried Zumba under the direction of Marie Faulkner, one of the first certified instructors in Atlantic Canada. She did not think she was good at it at first, but then kept coming back until she became certified in several Zumba programs.
Now, she is teaching classes at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro and Aqua Zumba at Scotia Pool in Bible Hill. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she initially ran some classes over Zoom but ended up pausing for a while. Now she’s excited to be back, even if it’s on a reduced schedule.
“The tragedy in Portapique really kind of took the wind out of my sails,” she said. “Zumba is an exercise program, but your heart needs to be in it and nobody feels like dancing when they're sad ... I'm glad to be back at it for my own mental health."
On March 15, Barbrick and her husband entered isolation after a vacation in Cuba, and she needed something to do. She started a “caremongering” Facebook group, inspired by one in Fredericton, to help clear the air on misinformation that was spreading fear at the time.
“It gave me purpose at the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “Basically, I just picked through, cleaned out all the garbage, cleaned up all the misinformation and gave people a place to go for accurate information.”
A week-and-a-half in, she started making masks, first for her family and later to places feeding first responders such as the Glenholme Loop Petro Pass and Old Road BBQ, and for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Truro and Hub House homeless shelter.
Then, with the help of others, they sold masks and raised $2,300 for the NS Stronger Together Fund. Barbrick said she was never much of a seamstress, but in 2020 she made about 1,300 masks.
To this day, with the help of Morgan Cowan, she is constantly updating the Facebook group with government updates, resources, opportunities and supports.
Now, her new thing is keeping chickens and quails, brought in from her parent’s hobby farm. It's a messy and dirty task, and at one point she had 50 birds.
“I go out in the morning and say hello to my girls ... My friends think I'm just slightly crazy,” she said. “But they've known me for years, so they know I'm slightly crazy.”
Barbrick recently participated in our question and answer session:
Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I'm trained in the culinary arts.
Q. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I endured nine months needing back surgery. That was pretty tough.
Q. What is your most treasured possession?
A pair of large framed Egyptian papyrus prints. Not sentimental, I just really like them. I think what you treasure the most for sentimental reasons may change with life experience. Right now, it's a large glass friendship ball that was given to me by my dear friend whom we lost recently.
Q. What is your greatest regret?
Not believing in myself when I was younger. I want to be able to go back and tell young me that she could do anything.
Q. What is your best quality?
I think it's my ability to read people. I'm very empathic and insightful.
Q. How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
Is sweaty Zumba clothes a fashion statement? I don't think I have much of a sense of style. I always envy folks who have a real sense of style.