Don’t give up — Nunavut is winning
The people of Nunavut will get through this crisis
As Confederation’s youngest sibling, Nunavut gets a lot of benign condescension from the rest of Canada.
Though everyone loves the baby of the family, hardly anyone outside Nunavut believes the baby of the family has anything to teach them.
It’s now time for a change of attitude. Because over the past year, the people of Nunavut have shown they have much to teach the people of Canada about how to handle a calamitous emergency.
On Jan. 27, 2020, the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg confirmed the first novel coronavirus infection in Canada. On March 11 — when Canada had recorded 117 cases of COVID-19 — the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic was underway.
That week, the response from federal officials was still nonchalant and lackadaisical. They dithered about closing the country’s borders and downplayed the horrors that lurked just around the corner.
Nunavut didn’t dither. And much of the territory’s early response arose spontaneously, from people like you, regular people in the communities.
Hamlet councils in places like Kugaaruk and Kinngait soon made their own painful decisions to shut down all or most hamlet services and facilities. They banned travel and large gatherings, such as lengthy mass card games inside homes.
Local education committees pressured the GN into closing all schools. Most employers closed their premises. Bars closed. Restaurants offered takeout only. Those who could, worked from home.
And by March 26, travel restrictions had kicked in, and those returning to the territory began doing 14-day stints at special quarantine hotels in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife.
All that self-sacrifice paid off. On Nov. 2, Public Health Agency of Canada had reported 241,961 cases across the country. In Nunavut? A grand total of zero.
Nunavut’s response wasn’t perfect. But for nine long months, while the disease ravaged the country, Nunavut kept COVID-19 at bay.
All the people of Nunavut — and that means you — deserve praise for this accomplishment.
It also means the people of Nunavut are more than capable of getting through the current crisis, which started Nov. 6, when the GN confirmed that a person in Sanikiluaq had become infected.
By Nov. 25, when Arviat’s active case count hit 115, it looked as if a humanitarian catastrophe was imminent.
But Nunavut is pulling through. Despite the territory’s many vulnerabilities, the two-week lockdown that started Nov. 18 is starting to pay off.
Yes, Arviat had suffered 140 confirmed cases by Dec. 1. But by that day 64 people there had recovered and the community’s active case count had dropped to 76.
At that rate, the number of recoveries in Nunavut will soon exceed the number of active cases.
There have been no anti-mask rallies and apart from a few misinformed blowhards on Facebook, no widespread dissemination of dangerous conspiracy theories.
Instead, the territory has relied on social solidarity and sound leadership, especially from Premier Joe Savikataaq and his cabinet, the chief public health officer Michael Patterson and the Department of Health.
Above all, the territory is winning this battle because of regular people who lead by example, like Gloria Thompson of Chesterfield Inlet, who keeps her household of 13 people safe by cleaning two or three times a day.
There are many, many others like her who display the spirit that will defeat this virus. So. don’t give up — Nunavut is winning.