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Nova Scotia family's pandemic reunion goes viral on TikTok

·3 min read
Kelsy Ellefsen is seen in the front row, second from the right. She's joined by her mom, aunts and cousins, many of whom live in Dartmouth, N.S. (Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen - image credit)
Kelsy Ellefsen is seen in the front row, second from the right. She's joined by her mom, aunts and cousins, many of whom live in Dartmouth, N.S. (Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen - image credit)

A video of a group of relatives reuniting in Nova Scotia after years of not seeing each other has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world.

Kelsy Ellefsen lives in Ontario, but most of her aunts and cousins live in Dartmouth, N.S., where she grew up.

Ellefsen was supposed to drive to Nova Scotia with her mother and an aunt from Alberta to see family earlier this month, but she couldn't go because of a prior commitment.

However, Ellefsen knew she couldn't miss the reunion. She hatched a plan to fly to Nova Scotia with her six-month old son to meet them later — without telling them.

"We all come from a family of surprises. My grandpa used to surprise all of us, all the time, so I think it's just in our blood," Ellefsen told CBC's Mainstreet on Thursday.

"I just wanted to make it fun and surprise everybody, and after COVID, I think it was just good for the soul."

Ellefsen said one of her aunts and a cousin were in on the plan. The other dozen or so relatives that were meeting in Nova Scotia — including her mom — had no idea.

Ellefsen arrived in Nova Scotia with her son, Sam, on Oct. 4. She said she was anxious as she walked into her aunt's house with Sammy in her arms.

Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen
Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen

They were met with screams of joy, surprise and confusion — all of which was captured on video.

"They're very emotional people so I did expect them to react — maybe not quite in such a manner that would be so funny for everybody," she said with a laugh.

Ellefsen said she wanted to film their reactions to share with relatives who couldn't make it to Nova Scotia.

It was Ellefsen's cousin, Megan MacDonald, who spliced the videos together and posted it on TikTok.

Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen
Submitted by Kelsy Ellefsen

About three weeks later, it has been viewed 3.2 million times and has nearly 750,000 likes.

"We never thought that that would ever happen. We just did it for fun ... but we never, ever thought it would go on TikTok and get that many views," she said.

Ellefsen said when she saw the video had gone viral, she felt overwhelmed, but that didn't last long.

"I think because the general feedback was just so positive, it was just really nice and it was touching for a lot of people that have been separated [from] their families for so long because of COVID," she said.

Since the video did so well, MacDonald has also put together several other videos with more reactions from other cousins, an explainer video and a video of them saying goodbye.

Ellefsen said she's happy she was able to see her family and share the love on TikTok.

"It was so, so nice. Everyone was just so excited to be reunited after so long and for me, it was really incredible to have my family meet Sam because they're so far away," she said.

"That was very special."

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