Canada’s provinces must do their part to help Nunavut during the pandemic

“Your good management of the virus in your provinces is an act of love and care for us”

Four new COVID-19 cases were reported in Arviat Monday, though the number of active cases across Nunavut dropped to 108. (File photo)

By Joseph Murdoch-Flowers

To the premiers of southern Canada,

I hope this letter finds you and your citizens well. Unfortunately, I’m aware that this is a faint hope. More and more of your citizens are contracting the coronavirus, becoming ill with COVID-19, and dying.

I watch heartbroken, anxious and fearful for the safety and well-being of family and friends in southern Canada, and now sadly, for northerners, too.

After many months of keeping the virus out of Nunavut, we got word of a first case on Nov. 6. Not long after, we would hear of our second and third and fourth and fifth. By Nov. 24, we heard of our 133rd to 142nd cases.

I know that shouldering the weight of managing your provinces’ coronavirus outbreak is a heavy burden to bear. Yet your obligation to control the outbreak does not stop with the citizens of your provinces. As Nunavummiut, we depend on southern Canada for essential goods and services.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. recently published a report on the infrastructure gap in Nunavut. We have the fewest staffed hospital beds per capita in Canada. We have the highest rates of overcrowded housing. Approximately half of the children born to Nunavut mothers are born in southern hospitals.

Just as wearing a mask is an act of love and care for fellow citizens in your immediate surroundings, your good management of the virus in your provinces is an act of love and care for us.

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and his public health team led by Dr. Michael Patterson have shown exemplary leadership in prioritizing the health and safety of Nunavummiut above all else. It is because of their leadership that we have enjoyed one of the longest stretches on Earth of coronavirus-free life.

Now, as cases rise in your provinces, the risk of further outbreaks in Nunavut’s communities increases. It is on you to do all you can to get your province’s numbers under control, not only for your own citizens, but for your northern neighbours in confederation.


Joseph Murdoch-Flowers
Iqaluit, Nunavut

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Up to all Nunavut on

    This is great but it is really up to all who enter Nunavut.

    Essential workers, medical travelers and leisure travelers must all protect themselves and follow all the rules.

    Some of the outbreaks have come from people who couldnt handle isolation hub and we’re given exemptions to leave early if they followed a plan to isolate at home. They were met with welcoming parties at the airport and didn’t follow the plan and then the community had cases

    • Posted by Fact and Fiction on

      That’s actually not true. The three people who first got Covid in Sani, Rankin, and Arviat were all travellers who completed the 14 day isolation in Winnipeg (1 in 1 hotel, 2 from the other). Dr. Patterson has stated this repeatedly at the press conferences. Based on this, they likely contracted Covid in the hub or the airport. Even isolation isn’t perfect. But everyone, here and in the southern provinces should be very careful about the spreading of false information and rumors.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Canadians need to realize that the Prime Minister and the six Premiers from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia has failed their citizens and should be voted out at their next election, if they do not resign prior to that vote.
    The number one duty of these officials is to keep their citizens safe. They have failed to do so by not trying everything in their power to reduce Covid-19 cases within their jurisdiction to zero.
    Let me go back to the beginning of Covid-19. The federal and provincial governments knew that Covid-19 was caused by a contagious coronavirus and was spread (primarily) by air. It originated in China and China showed that the method to handle a coronavirus was strict quarantine and testing. From the beginning there was a question whether people could be asymptomatic and it became clear early on that this was likely and then a certainty.
    Now China did make some mistakes, primarily allowing advance notice of their initial lockdown in Wuhan which did complicate their response, but otherwise their quarantine was effective. They also built a hospital in a week and were able to bring the full force of their economy to bear to provide the necessary testing (and eventually PPE).
    Canada and the whole world had advance notice. Not a whole lot, and not with all the information we have now, but enough to come up with a plan. A country such as New Zealand closed it’s borders and had a strict and effective lockdown. Canada did not. Our borders have never been closed to returning Canadian (and now even non-Canadian relatives), therefore we continue to import case after case. In most provinces our quarantines are also ineffective relying on the goodwill of Canadians to obey. Sorry we needed QR codes for travel and entry to stores and other services at a minimum.
    Only in the 4 eastern provinces and 3 northern territories was there an attempt to reduce Covid-19 levels to zero, continue strict and effective quarantines, and only reopen portions of the economy and society where it was safe to do so. Even then there have been too many cases of imported Covid-19 and eventually the bubble has burst.
    The rest of the provinces, primarily Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta started reopening without taking their Covid-19 cases to zero, and have reopened too much, too fast, and without appropriate safeguards. Business interests triumphed over human life.
    Who knew that reopening bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, and churches would lead to a resurgence of Covid-19 infections? Basically anyone who looked at this pandemic from a scientific viewpoint. It is an infectious airborne virus, of course loud talk, heavy exercise, and singing in tightly packed enclosed poorly ventilated structures is going to spread the virus. SMH.
    It has been mainly the provincial governments making and enforcing barely effective and sometimes contradictory rules, while our federal government has tried to be the “good guy” and claim the credit for procuring PPE, creating and doling out our tax money back to us in the form of individual and small, medium, and large business support.
    What the federal government has not done is to lead. Canadians needed from the start to know what the strategy was, and for the federal government to coordinate with the provincial governments to keep individual Canadians safe while protecting our jobs, our savings, and our future.
    From the start the strategy should have been to eradicate the virus within our borders, allow entry of returning Canadians only under strict (and safe) conditions, and to increase testing and tracing of any new cases to the point where they can be eradicated upon discovery without community spread.
    Prime Minister Trudeau needed to use the Emergencies Act, and all of the Premiers should have been on board and looking for ways to crush Covid-19 and then open society slowly and safely.
    We know that the coronavirus has roughly a 14 days lifespan from the time of initial infection. A true 28 day quarantine (two life cycles of the virus) would take cases down close to zero if there is no community spread. A further 14 days should ensure that there is no Covid-19 present in the population.
    Yes the quarantine would be harsh on society. One person per household allowed to shop, and only for essentials maybe twice a week. Everyone else but essential workers at home 24/7. All essential workers tested every 48 hours. It would be tough, certainly inconvenient, but not deadly.
    We still have probably 9 months of living under Covid until enough of the population is vaccinated. Even then given the current spread of the virus it’s likely that it will be in our communities for years, just waiting to break out. And remember, if the vaccine is 90% effective it means that there is still a 1 in 10 chance that you, or your parents, or grandparents will become infected, and then have a 1 in 25 chance of dying.
    Is it too much to ask the federal and provincial governments to finally do the right thing and put my life, and your life, ahead of corporate profits?

  3. Posted by Beverly Smith on

    My God your article is bang on! There is nothing we can do about the past, only learn a lesson or two. “Stay the Blazes Home”, says NS premier, Steve Mac Neil. Dr. Tam has been giving this message since March. She is the Chief Medical Officer for Canada. Was there a protocol manual? If not, you make one, with the best sound advice, and turn to Dr.Tam and others for the necessary steps to take. I know it is a right to make your own decisions, but with every right , there is a responsibility. People know the responsible decision to make , but choose to do what they want. How many times can she say, you must stay home, or wear a mask, and be socially responsible, keep your distance, and only go out for the essentials. She must be worn out. We need to do the right thing!

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