Nunavut has eight new COVID-19 cases, the territorial government said in a news release on Friday. (File image)

Don’t give up — Nunavut is winning

The people of Nunavut will get through this crisis

By Jim Bell

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.

And on that day, 89 of 182 people with confirmed infections in Nunavut had recovered and 93 were still sick.

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.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Not all correct on

    You have a point of sorts but you’re not seeing another point worth considering. Yes Nunavut did well, and continued to do so with the battle to fight the infection, but consider how the positive cases mainly came to be in the first place. It’s mostly a younger group, in Winnipeg for medical and other reasons, disobedience to the responsibility of restrictions, that brought the virus home. If Canada and the other provinces can get that message from Nunavut, I then will agree with it that Nunavut can teach us all something. In a population of 2000 people having around 130 people affected is very close to disaster, luckily Nunavut is coming out of it,.

    • Posted by To one community numbers on

      The reference is to one set of numbers in one community of roughly 2000, with roughly 130 cases. That’s very concerning in a few square miles. So, therefore it’s a wake up call, even thou, we are seeing the light at end of the tunnel.

    • Posted by Dominic Krksuk on

      i’m so happy that we are remember by many, as i first heard on november, 13th, 2020, i was so upset, & heard corona virus is here in arviat, & everyday it still adds up, then the cured 1’s rise up too, i’m happy that rankin inlet had virus free, this becomes real in our lives, that never we known before, & i’m so happy my sister is busy with cleaning up in our health centre in arviat, 2 o’clock, & 7 o’clock is our local radio listen times for us, for up dates from convid 19. good luck.

  2. Posted by Artie on

    Might not want to count our chickens before they hatch. Covid cases surging in southern Canada & around the world & we have just started our first covid winter.??

  3. Posted by Sam on

    Hope the Chart Room starts following the capacity rules!

  4. Posted by Common sense on

    Melted all down, it’s common sense. Follow the recommendation. Stay out of the public gatherings. The odd person gets this virus by way of the unknown where , when , how, but the majority are getting it from gathering. I sympathize with anyone who gets covid, but please think. What’s not shared yet , and hopefully people will soon open up and be honest about where they’ll been, what they done to get this virus. I’m talking about the majority that get this virus. They know where , when , and how , not all but most. They need to come up front and teach us all about their gathering experience.

  5. Posted by Small community on

    It’s interesting that Nunavut had no cases, then suddenly all these cases in a small community. I never heard of such big numbers in any other small community in the country. Yes Nunavut can teach the country a lot. But I wonder what? Surely how to get it.

    • Posted by Jennifer on

      When you’re reliant on traveling to the South to get most of your medical care and then return home to a community with a housing crisis and eight people living in a two-bedroom home, it’s not that curious or interesting to see how it spread so quickly.

      What is interesting is how communities across Nunavut, with or without covid, responded in a respectable, organized, and cooperative manner. We did our part to acknowledge the virus arrived and then did our part to keep it in check.

      • Posted by It’s not the spread, but the acquisition on

        It’s not the spread in the community that’s the first part of the concern, although that’s the ultimate concerned. The first concern, and the one that’s needs investigation is how these people in the south were exposed in the first place. We have to address that concern, because , as we contain it in the community , we are still vulnerable to getting exposed again , if we don’t address that exposure in the south. Why, how , when , where needs addressing.

    • Posted by Mark Bayly on

      Native communities know if them virus comes their way it could be a disaster No doctors hospitals etc and that is what has happened in a few communities very few Really Trudeau and Trump didn’t take the virus seriously and it has resulted in a North American disaster

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