Crushing COVID-19 feels ‘like a war just ended,’ Arviat man says

Hamlet throws a parade to celebrate going COVID-free

Vehicles of all kinds travel around the Nunavut community of Arviat on Tuesday evening as residents celebrate the end of their COVID-19 outbreak with a socially distanced parade. (Photo by Eric Anoee Jr.)

By Jane George

When Arviat’s Eric Anoee Jr. watched his community emerge from its COVID-19 outbreak, it felt “kinda like a war just ended and we won,” he says.

Arviat residents celebrated the end of their outbreak on Tuesday evening with a parade of vehicles around their community’s streets.

The festivities marked two weeks since the last person in the community of about 3,000 was out of isolation. The community had struggled for months to quell an outbreak that first began in November.

Anoee was among those who came out to view trucks, all-terrain vehicles, SUVs and other vehicles streaming by.

Mainly he took photos and watched “with joy, a lot of happy people during the parade,” he said.

Now he is feeling relieved because he won’t have to worry about people in town getting sick, he said.

And soon he’ll be able to play hockey on the sea ice, watch school plays, attend church services and visit his nephews, sister and brother, all of whom he missed during the outbreak.

Paul Aliktiluk and his son Peter get ready to join the parade of vehicles through Arviat on Tuesday evening, for which they made a sign reading “Praise God” and “Arviat Strong.” (Photo courtesy of Paul Aliktiluk)

Paul Aliktiluk and his son Peter were among those in the parade, which started 7:15 p.m. after Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr., announced on the community radio that Arviat was an “official COVID-free town.”

And the Aliktiluks decided to make a sign that read “Praise God” and “Arviat Strong,” which was often used as a hashtag on social media during the outbreak which saw 339 cases, including one death.

The period since Arviat’s first confirmed case Nov. 13 hasn’t been easy on families, businesses and essential workers who endured extended separations, stress and sometimes sickness.

Speaking Wednesday during the Government of Nunavut’s COVID-19 update, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, noted April 20 as the landmark day for Arviat.

“Yesterday Arviat’s outbreak was officially over and I congratulate the community on reaching this point. If in the upcoming days there are no further cases, we will be in a position to ease the restrictions there on April 26,” Patterson said.

Patterson said this means that next Monday Arviat’s restrictions will align with those in the rest of the Kivalliq: businesses, schools and recreation facilities can open, and limits on gatherings will be widened, he said.

But Patterson reminded everyone to continue to maintain a distance of two metres from others in public if they aren’t members of their immediate household.

Arviat and other Nunavut communities that have seen COVID-19 outbreaks show that following the public health measures works, he said.

If Nunavut continues with the “model of partnership” between public health tracing and other measures, he said, “we will get through.”

On Wednesday, Nunavut had 33 active cases, 31 in Iqaluit and two in Kinngait.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Happy on

    Happy for Arviat. Great to see that COVID is declared over in their community.

    One question though, Rankin Inlet has been without a case since the beginning of December. Over 4 months without a case so but have more restrictions than Arviat, how is that possible?

    According to Dr. Patterson, the world wide gold standard to declare a community COVID is 28 days. As far as I can tell, Rankin Inlet hasn’t been declared COVID free yet. On top of not being declared COVID free, they have more restrictions than Arviat effective Monday.

    At the rate the Governmwnt of Nunavut is taking to declared Rankin Inlet COVID free, Iqaluit will be declared free of COVID before Rankin Inlet is.

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    • Posted by Assume on

      I have to assume the reason Rankin has restrictions is because it is the other major transportation hub that has flights everyday to and from Iqaluit. The restrictions in Rankin are a precautionary measure. With the confirmation of COVID in Yellowknife, which also has flights everyday to and from Rankin, I don’t see the restrictions being removed for a while.

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      • Posted by Non-sense on

        Like Rankin doesn’t get 2 flights a day from Winnipeg, no one bats an eye and restrictions were eased. But now that covid is a 2 hour flight away on Baffin island, the other side of the Hudson Bay and we are pretending like it is lurking just down the end of the road.

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    • Posted by Nunavut on

      So With the flights getting in from Iqaluit to Rankin, with many of them isolating!
      Wouldn’t it be wise to wait to see if people in Rankin are
      Covid free before restrictions
      Are lifted!

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      • Posted by Missing the point on

        The point trying to be made is that Rankin Inlet has flights daily, with the exception of Saturday, from Winnipeg. Flights also from Quebec, however, the passengers from Quebec are suppose to go right to the mining camp. Passengers from Winnipeg do isolate for 2 week or are on expedited medical travel but what’s not to say they get the virus while at the airport in Winnipeg? Rankin has been without a case not for more than 4 months and still have restrictions, tighter restriction than Arviat will have effective Monday, as long as no new cases arrive there. Other Baffin communities have flights from Iqaluit as well but Rankin has to gets tighter restrictions? Passengers coming from Iqaluit to Rankin are required to isolate, why can’t restrictions be loosened until there is a need for them to be tightened again?

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  2. Posted by Jay Arnakak on

    so happy for Arviat unshackled from the covid-19!

    I have friends in Arviat and all over Nunavut; it lights my heart to see that the deep dark tunnel does have an end.

    we will eventually beat this nasty bug by continuing to practice public safety measures and getting vaccinated.

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  3. Posted by Johnson fitsintight on

    i think it’s a little too premature to be celebrating “the end of covid”, what if it comes back to the community? will they celebrate again?

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    • Posted by of course we will on

      We will celebrate each and every time we beat it. Arviamiut understand fully the battle with Covid may not be over for some time but it is important to celebrate when and where you can along the way……..

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  4. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    CONGRATULATIONS! Any advice Arviatmiut care to share with the rest of the territory?

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    • Posted by of course we will on

      Stay positive, stay strong, help those who can’t help themselves, and listen to the CPHO

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