HALIFAX -- During the COVID-19 pandemic, most Canadians are doing what they can to stay safe. For Nova Scotians, Premier Stephen McNeil’s folksy way of telling residents to stay home has become an unofficial provincial rallying cry.

"We don't need online graphs to tell us what we need to do. We need to stay the blazes home,” declared McNeil during a news conference on Friday, April 3.

“The virus will find you. Then it finds your loved ones. And then it finds your neighbourhoods. And then we have community spread,” said an angry McNeil, emphasizing the importance of physical-distancing.

“And then everyone is putting pressure on the public health to solve it, our healthcare system to deal with it, and government to pay for it, when all we have to do is stay the blazes home.”

McNeil’s unique way of telling the public to stay at home has quickly gone viral, spawning songs, memes, t-shirts and mugs in tribute.

“When I first heard him say, ‘Stay the Blazes Home,’ my first reaction was, ‘no way he just said that on a live broadcast, this has to be the most Nova Scotian moment ever!’," says KekeBeatz, a North Preston, N.S.-based musician and producer.

Inspired and with nothing but time on his hands, KekeBeatz jumped into his home studio and started creating a remix of the premier's message.

“The process was pretty spontaneous. I composed two different beats for it, all from scratch, but wasn’t going to release it. But on my third try, I mastered the sound and sent it to some close friends.”

The remix quickly went viral on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, with over 91,000 views and 5,500 shares in less than 48 hours.

“The reaction has been unbelievable,” says KekeBeatz. “I’ve seen DJs playing it in their neighbourhoods, people doing dance challenges. I hope this will encourage our neighbours to stay home and only go out for essential items and services, because the sooner we all follow suit, the sooner this will be over.”


STAY THE BLAZES HOME!!! ���� What I Hear:

A post shared by KekeBeatz (@kekegram) on

Twitter user @AdamNFaber took things a step further by making a song to go along with Premier McNeil's message.

Faber reworked Bon Jovi’s "Blaze of Glory" into an accordion cover where he sings about spending a week working from bed in his pyjamas. His video has been viewed more than 21,000 times on Twitter.

"Don't go out, stay the blazes home, just sit down and watch the news" sings Faber.

Miriah Kearney of Truro, N.S.-based My Home Apparel says she knew the premier’s quote would be a perfect fit for a new T-shirt design.

So she immediately went to work on creating one for her clothing company. Every dollar made from the sales of the shirt goes to Feed Nova Scotia, Shelter Nova Scotia, and the QEII COVID-19 Response Fund.

“This has been a career highlight for me,” says Kearney. “I’ve never launched or done anything that has made such a quick impact or anything that has gone viral and made such a difference.”

Their initial order of 3,000 shirts sold out in about a day, raising more than $45,000 for charity.

Kearney is working hard to create more shirts as soon as possible, and is hoping to re-hire laid-off staff to help fill the demand.

“In a dark time like COVID-19, and the impact on small business, this is actually a silver lining and a really joyful moment,” adds Kearney. “Even if my business goes down in the end, which I hope it doesn’t, this would be an amazing way to give back the best way we can, in the time we have.”

Dartmouth-based illustrator Liz Macmichael has gone beyond T-shirts, selling "Stay the Blazes Home" mugs, stickers, socks and even underwear on her website.

“I opened up Twitter that evening and someone was saying, ‘I need this saying on a T-Shirt,’ and someone tagged me on it, so I got to work,” says Macmichael.

She made up a quick design and built the website in one night. She says people keep requesting more products.

“You can tell he’s very angry, but it’s a very delightfully Nova Scotian way to swear at people,” says Macmichael. “It’s great, but he makes a good point in that as funny as it is, it still shouldn’t be treated as a joke and we should still be heeding this message,”

McNeil recognized his trending statement during a news conference on Sunday.

“If you bought a 'Stay the Blazes at Home' T-shirt, wear it. If you bought a mug, drink out of it, and if you have a sign on your lawn, use it as a reminder for your family, and especially for those who aren’t listening,” he said.