Silatik Qavviq died in a Winnipeg hospital in December, a few weeks after the Sanikiluaq woman was infected with COVID-19. Her husband and newborn baby were both infected and recovered from the virus. (Photo courtesy of Qavviq family)

Nunavut woman dies in Winnipeg hospital more than a month after COVID-19 diagnosis

“It was hard not to be with her”

By Sarah Rogers

Updated at 5 p.m.

A Sanikiluaq woman has died more than a month after testing positive for COVID-19 in a Winnipeg hospital.

The family of Silatik Qavvik said the 35-year-old woman was taken off of a ventilator at Saint Boniface hospital in Winnipeg Jan. 2 and died shortly afterwards.

“We were Facetiming with her when they did that,” said Johnnie Kuki, Qavvik’s father and mayor of Sanikiluaq. He said he was at home with other family members when his daughter died.

“We all watched — it was very difficult. We loved her.”

Qavvik was pregnant when she travelled to Winnipeg in November, where she delivered her daughter by caesarean section. Kuki said that Qavvik, her baby and her husband all tested positive for the virus while in hospital.

Kuki spoke to his daughter for the last time at the end of November, shortly after she tested positive.

“She said she was afraid and wanted to come home,” he said. “We were really hurt about it — it was hard not to be with her.”

Qavvik was moved into intensive care and put on a ventilator in early December.

By mid-December, Kuki said the family started to get updates from doctors at Saint Boniface hospital, who said Qavvik’s condition wasn’t improving.

At the end of December, a relative travelled to be with Qavvik and give doctors directions to remove the ventilator, in accordance with the family’s wishes.

Kuki said Qavvik died on Jan. 2.

Both Qavvik’s husband Peter and infant daughter Lisi have since recovered from COVID-19 and returned home to Sanikiluaq, where Qavvik’s four other children live.

Kuki said the family hasn’t determined when Qavvik’s remains will be flown home. He said he hasn’t been in contact with the GN since November, when he told health administrators that his daughter had tested positive for the virus.

“She was a very beautiful young lady,” he said of his daughter. “She was always very close to us. She was always thankful.”

“I wouldn’t want to see anyone else go through this.”

According to a Government of Manitoba news release, 11 people in the province died from COVID-19 on Jan. 2, but there are no deaths listed among women in Qavvik’s age group.

“Out-of-province cases are not included in our data reporting, and would be reported by the jurisdiction of residence,” said a Manitoba government spokesperson in an email.

If Qavvik’s death were to be recorded in Nunavut, it would be the territory’s third COVID-19 death, although there is some confusion around those numbers right now. The territorial government initially announced the deaths of two other Nunavummiut from COVID-19 on Dec. 19 — one from Rankin Inlet and another from Arviat.

But last week, the government edited its statistics to show just one COVID-19 death, “pending attribution,” a Health Department spokesperson said.

Neither the Government of Nunavut nor the Government of Manitoba have confirmed COVID-19 was the cause of Qavvik’s death, and neither responded to Nunatsiaq News’ requests by deadline.

A family friend has launched an online fundraiser for the Qavvik family here.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Johanne Coutu-Autut on

    My deepest condolences to her family and friends; I cannot imagine what they are and have been going through since her Covid diagnosis in November. My heart is breaking for this beautiful young woman who died in her prime of life. Naglinaq!!! for her life cut short and her dear children, husband , relatives. My thoughts are with you all.

  2. Posted by MARS on

    Rest in peace young lady. Condolences to the family.

  3. Posted by Carol Kehler on

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is so sad and tragic. Condolences to the family and friends in Sanikiluaq.

  4. Posted by Frustrated on

    So sorry to hear this and condolences to the family. The Mayor of Sanikiluaq wrote the GN a letter early this fall before any of this happened requesting Sanikiluaq be properly included in Nunavut bubble, and add a long-overdue flight between Iqaluit and Sanikiluaq, as it would also reduce risk of exposure from sending people to Winnipeg for non-emergency medical. Will the GN finally start taking this important request seriously now?

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