Unruly behaviour in Nunavut COVID-19 isolation hubs may prompt liquor restrictions

“The government is exploring options with its contractors to reduce access to alcohol while in isolation”

The Holiday Inn at 44 Avenue and Gateway Blvd. in Edmonton is one of four isolation hubs maintained by the Government of Nunavut for residents in southern Canada awaiting to return to the territory. (Image courtesy of www.ihg.com)

By Jane George

The Government of Nunavut says it’s exploring options for how to limit access to alcohol at its isolation hubs for residents waiting to return to the territory from southern Canada, following complaints about alcohol-fuelled misconduct that has led to recent visits by police and firefighters.

“As alcohol is a legal substance, the Government of Nunavut does not have the authority nor power to limit its consumption and or sale in another jurisdiction,” says a statement from the Health Department.

However, the GN said “the government is exploring options with its contractors to reduce access to alcohol while in isolation.”

Police in Edmonton have confirmed details of an argument that occurred Sept. 8 at the Holiday Inn at 44 Avenue and Gateway Blvd. between an intoxicated man staying at the hotel and hotel security.

That also saw the fire department called to the scene.

“No criminal offence occurred, (and) no arrests were made,” said Cheryl Voordenhout, a communications advisor with Edmonton Police Service.

The Department of Health said it does not comment on individual cases. But it acknowledged in its emailed statement to Nunatsiaq News that alcohol does enter the Edmonton isolation hub.

Nunavut operates four isolation hubs for residents travelling from southern Canada back to the territory, to help keep COVID-19 out of the territory.

Though people are not allowed to leave the hotel in Edmonton to purchase alcohol, “there are a number of delivery services in southern Canada that will deliver alcohol,” the Department of Health said.

The same applies to now-legalized marijuana suppliers, a list of which is available to guests at the Holiday Inn in Edmonton.

The medical travel isolation hub in Winnipeg operates by different rules, the Health Department said.

It’s also the only hub run by the GN. The other hubs’ operations are contracted out to the business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Qikiqtaaluk Corp., which also manages the Larga patient boarding homes for Nunavut Inuit receiving health care outside Nunavut.

In Winnipeg, Nunavummiut staying at the Best Western Plus Winnipeg Airport Hotel on 1715 Wellington Ave. fall under the medical travel guidelines that prohibit the use of alcohol, the Health Department said.

“The Department of Health recognizes that alcohol is still, at times, entering the Winnipeg site. The Department of Health is working through education and support to limit the entry of alcohol into the Winnipeg Medical Travel site,” the Health Department said.

One source who was not authorized to speak to reporters related how an intoxicated individual in isolation in Winnipeg recently set fire to their sheets.

The Winnipeg Police Service said it couldn’t confirm the incident. “Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide details of incidents that occur at private addresses.”

Similarly, the Ottawa Police Service said it was unable to confirm whether police had responded to a recent brawl between hotel guests, witnessed by guests at the Residence Inn by Marriott on 1172 Walkley Rd.

Officers may stop by the hotel to check into complaints without laying charges, the OPS said.

One isolation hub guest said that yelling from inside rooms can often be heard from the halls.

Another guest witnessed a confrontation between an intoxicated individual and a security guard early one morning.

“Recognizing that overuse of alcohol can lead to unacceptable behaviour, the isolation sites strive to support those in isolation through mental health support and access to treatment. Complaints regarding alcohol, depending on severity, are directed toward isolation relations, isolation site management or local law enforcement,” the Health Department said.

This past weekend in Edmonton, members of the hotel staff were knocking on doors to locate a guest who was unaccounted for, said another guest who received multiple questions about what room they were in.

Such a breach of quarantine would result in a “reset” to the two-week isolation period that would start all over again.

The Department of Health said it “strives to support those who have had a reset to their isolation period to ensure they successfully complete the 14-day period and return home.”

And, “whether in isolation or home in Nunavut, the Department of Health encourages people to be responsible when consuming alcohol,” the statement said.

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(35) Comments:

  1. Posted by why u dum on

    Maybe if the Nunavut Government had prepared for this in the last 6 months we would not need isolation. Isolation only proves how are leaders have failed us.

    • Posted by Gagita on

      You are Covid free. How exactly did your leaders fail you? Better yet… why don’t you recommend a solution?

      Or maybe.. just MAYBE, find a way to tell folks that being sober for two weeks is easier than re-setting isolation every single time.

      • Posted by No Idea if COVID free on

        There are basically no tests being done here so not even clear its COVID free.

        • Posted by Why you lying? on

          There are tests being done. We would know if covid was here. From what I read and saw, we would know if it was here. Our leaders are doing a good job keeping it out.

        • Posted by Whoa on

          there are most certainly covid tests being done in territory regularly!

  2. Posted by Need Support on

    Overuse of of drugs and alcohol consumption is live and well in Nunavut, so much healing needs to happen. The GN is doing well with the opening of a beer and wine store and now with a weed store on the horizon. Any updates on treatment centre? Time to get our priorities straight.

    • Posted by Treatment on

      Just having an addiction treatment center alone will not help. Clients need to be ready for it and adjust their lives after a successful treatment. Being in a center for a few month, clients still would need to practice sobriety, or all of this commitment was for nothing. If you have a chance, talk to some of the AA and you will find out that they cannot touch the smallest amount of alcohol, or they are back in the devils circle. You can build it and they’ll come. However, since this is not about a baseball team, impacted Nunavumiut have to acknowledge that they have an alcohol or drug problem and need to do everything in their power to support professional help.

      The Government of Nunavut have done fabulous in preventing COVID-19 hitting Nunavut and keep its residents safe. We all know what could happen if the virus actually makes it into Nunavut and spreads around some communities. Respiratory illnesses, TB, smoking and all other underlining health issues could be a huge contributor to see high numbers of infected Nunavumiut and casualties. To our leaders, keep doing what you do, but also try to control the few idiots in the isolation hubs who ruin it for all and who shed a bad light on Nunavut. Enough is enough

  3. Posted by General Mills on

    Nunavut’s boozers ruin everything, all the time.
    When do we see some accountability?

    • Posted by Moving along on

      Never, these individuals will be exculpated by shifting responsibility to dark and nebulous forces embedded somewhere in deep history. You will accept that or be branded a heretic and subjected to public flogging.

      • Posted by Somewhere in the middle on

        Perhaps the truth of the matter is somewhere in between?

  4. Posted by Fred on

    Treat people like kids and they will act like kids, alcohol problems will continue in Nunavut, and anywhere else the government tries to control it! Prohibition ended everywhere else, it should here too!

  5. Posted by wondering on

    Covid money running wild..and they are thinking about a guaranteed income supplement..get lost..

  6. Posted by Jerks on

    Costing a lot of money.
    GN Paying 400$ a day per person in this hubs yet.
    Someone I heard went 5 times to isolation and get kicked out and start again. More then 50 days in isolation at the hub cost $20 000 just this one guy.
    Shoud make him stay in Edmonton and not come back to Gjoa alrite

  7. Posted by Want to travel on

    I’m planning to travel south in the near future.
    Hope the few bad apples don’t ruin it for everyone. Beer & wine will help pass the time during the 14 day isolation.
    Yes, Nunavut and its communities should get away from being a Nanny State, the comment above- “Treat people like kids, people will act like kids”. Very true and accurate.
    This was was mentioned a while ago and also elsewhere in Canada, the travel restrictions might be in violation of our Charter of Rights & Freedom.

    • Posted by Gagita on

      The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not state you can risk starting a public health emergency by travelling.

      It’s called looking out for your fellow man.

  8. Posted by Gratitude on

    Thank you, southern Canada, for being there to host these isolation hubs! It’s generous to host Nunavut residents in your cities, to keep Covid-19 out of the territory.

  9. Posted by Stop the Booze on

    What a disaster. The GN will be paying even more money to fix damaged rooms and facilities. Still no solution in sight to these hubs just months and months of expense and problems.

  10. Posted by tommy bruce on

    I stayed at the Best Western until last Friday. There were poster’s for no booze and no marijuana. So I followed the rules. C’mon people.

  11. Posted by There must be a way on

    To blame this on systemic racism

  12. Posted by Andrea on

    Since i got here it was a challenge because im hearing alot of inuit are being treated bad outside n inside also. Ive witness alot since day 1. Dont get me wrong but very thankful for a ruff over my head, bed to sleep on, n food to eat. This isolation is new to some ppl. And noticing alot of wrongs too besides us inuit being blamed for this, its also the hotel selling $5.00 beer. Inuit are being treated bad not most but some. Ive seen it. Going for a cigg there allowed 25 ppl outside. Not to be mean but inuit need air to, weve been told to go back inside 5 mins later n were all aloud 25 mins. Not once these white ppl been told to go inside all day outside. Sharing there beer not even 6feet away. Weve all seen this. I feel for the ppl being mistreated.

  13. Posted by test instead of isolate on

    entry into countries like iceland require a negative test, followed by four to five days of quarantine and then another negative test. other jurisdictions require a negative test before flying followed by a period of quarantine and then another negative test. imprisoning people for two weeks in a hotel is bound to cause distress and misery.

  14. Posted by Why? on

    Why are there so many more people here saying people will blame this on perceived racism, than people saying this is caused by systemic racism?
    Are there really that many people just looking to belittle any discussion of the undeniable forces of systemic racism that exist in the world that they’re arguing against figments of their own imagination and getting angry before anyone says anything?
    That doesn’t seem like a good way to have genuine discussion about things that actually exist. It doesn’t seem like many people actually care about the story at-hand, and are just using it to write out the arguments they have in their head. It’s unfortunate and disrespectful to see that sort of discussion take up most of the comments for an inuit paper.

    • Posted by Paradox Pete on

      I only see one comment with the words ‘systemic racism’ in it. And that one is quite comical. Who is the one responding to the arguments in their head again?

      • Posted by Amaruq on

        Well…what can we do? We have families who are away for medical treatments: cancer, critical injuries, follow-ups etc, (Patient’s and Escorts) – we have families at home waiting for results. For those who never really Travel outside of Territory: escorting is also another that leads to …frustrations – worrying about their own well-being, a family at hospital, families at home and even work. Treat Us Just Like We Treat You When Working Up North!

        • Posted by Paradox Pete on

          Why are you upset with me? I am only pointing out the weird logic of the first comment

        • Posted by Better Please on

          Ummm, no, I would rather be treated better than I’m treated “up north”.

          I’ve found Nunavummiut to be the least welcoming and least tolerant of the territories. They are certainly the most xenophobic by a large measure. There is a lot of lip-service to being welcoming and tolerant, but the reality is very different.

        • Posted by Hotel on

          I agree with you treat ppl the way they want to be treated, because when you go up north. Inuit are nothing but nice welcoming and always helping others

          • Posted by Your Experience May Vary on

            Depends where you go, depends where you go. The communities are all very different. Some of the smaller and remote ones are truly unpleasant.

            Nowhere else in Canada have I, as a Canadian, been told to my face to go back where I came from. Nowhere else in Canada has my wife been called a n%^&&$r directly to her face. Nowhere else have old women told me to my face that I’m dirty because of my skin colour. Nowhere else have I been told ‘we don’t want your type here’. All comments by beneficiaries.

            This is not welcoming.

            My experience has been that many Inuit are very selective about who they are welcoming to. It is certainly not universal, that is for sure. This is to be expected, we are talking about a population like anywhere else with many different individuals.

  15. Posted by bill nesh on

    How about people take personal responsibility for their behaviour and quit blaming everyone and everything else. End of story.Grow up man.

  16. Posted by Sue on

    Why doesn’t GN hire more testing sites in the city for Inuit who need to go Home to Nunavut. Test them and self isolate for fewer days like they do down south. People down south get tested , told to self isolate and given results in Two business days. Instead of two weeks, testing before they go to Nunavut and self isolate can work.
    You pay Hotel so you should set rules for the stay you provide as a Government. But Human rights will mess that up thou. An agreement can be signed by the client with rules to follow.
    It’s so embarrassing again for a few stupid people who abuse alcohol. Those individuals should be billed for the hotel stay. Post all their names ….

    • Posted by Nah on

      Sue, you have good points which were out weight by your last sentence.

      Don’t ask others to bully those with addictions. Maybe asked the purse holders to contact them directly instead in private.

  17. Posted by Artie on

    Anyway u look at it, having to do a hotel isolation is tough. 14 days restricted to room with brief outside breaks & eating food from a restaurant menu – going to be hard. Alcohol & weed are coping mechanisms I suppose but when it becomes a bigger issue than the 14 day isolation then there is a problem. Hang in there Nunavummiut. Vaccine be available in 1 year or less. ❤?

  18. Posted by Why? on

    Why is calm air only 24 hour isolation but Inuit 336 hour isolation? If tests can come back in a 24 hour period for calm air. Maybe Nunavut government should take initiative to acquire said tests for Nunavut residents staying at said isolation hubs. 200$ test compared to 400$ a day. I bet our government can’t do the math. To much social promotion.

  19. Posted by A quick question on

    Are they going to run these isolation hubs for years? COVID19 isn’t going away just yet. And certainly, the premier will have to return his plane soon. Probably will do it a little quieter than when he brought it from Manitoba…

    • Posted by this is so old and wrong on

      The Premier followed the rules and submitted a plan/request to be approved or turned down. Others did the same before and after him for various reasons as all people can do, including yourself.

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