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Arviat and Rankin Inlet try to remain upbeat as Covid battle continues

1702heaz FRONT
Eric Anoee sends the message Arviat strong while getting his second shot of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 in Arviat this past week. photo courtesy Eric Anoee

Spirits remain as high as can be expected as the second round of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 makes its way across the Kivalliq region.

Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie was proud of his community using its entire initial allotment of the vaccine and expects nothing different as the vaccine's second shot is delivered to the community this week.

Towtongie said once was enough for the community when Covid made its first appearance in Rankin and everyone is doing their best to keep the virus on the outside looking in.

He said being in total lockdown is no fun and the number of people being vaccinated in Rankin shows how dedicated to the fight against Covid the community truly is.

“At first, a lot of people were saying they weren't getting the vaccine but then they decided they were once it was actually here,” said Towtongie. “I knew a lot of people who did that. Whatever the reasons why they changed their minds, we used every shot sent to us the first time around and I expect it to be the same this week.”

Towtongie said the hamlet has been doing everything it can to keep spirits up during the pandemic.

He said he's seen the effect the pandemic has had on people and that's a struggle that will continue until the virus has been defeated or brought under control.

“This has been hard on a lot of people, especially single mothers and people who live alone through all this.

“That was especially true when we were on total lockdown. We're not on lockdown anymore and it's a little different now, but I'm sure this has been difficult on many families also.

“We've been out of the lockdown for awhile and it doesn't seem quite as bad right now, so I think we've been very lucky that way to only have been under total lockdown for that one time.

“We had Covid here and then we got out of it. I think that had a lot to do with us believing we can deal with it by helping each other, communicating well and being vigilant in our efforts to protect each other and our community.”

Towtongie said the financial support and food vouchers the community has received have gone a long way towards keeping the mood positive in Rankin.

He said it feels like the hamlet did a lot to help, but that came about due to a lot of help it received from government and a lot of different organizations and associations.

“We had our taste of it once and we don't want it back, so people are still doing their best to not let the coronavirus back into our town again.

“We had it and we don't want it anymore. Simple as that.

“We've lost a bit of our identity to Covid because we're so used to a lot of stuff happening in Rankin. It never stops here. We're almost like a little place that never sleeps.

“Things will get back to normal one day. And when they do, the events will come back, maybe bigger than ever, and the crowds will come back, as well. I'm sure of it.”

With a full lockdown continuing in Arviat, the vaccination clinics wrapped up in the community this past week with now more than 900 Arviarmiut immunized against the virus.

Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said the community has done a wonderful job in keeping its spirits up through all that it's endured.

He said the hamlet has helped out with food baskets, cleaning supplies and game packages to help keep the kids occupied while forced to stay at home, but it's the people themselves who have made all the difference in keeping Arviat positive throughout its battle with Covid-19.

“Arviarmiut are very reliable, patient and persistent and they're showing that now that we're in the 90s in the number of days we've been in lockdown since the virus first found its way into our community,” said Savikataaq.

“No other town has gone through what we've been through and we're still going strong.

“People here have made, and continue to make, tremendous sacrifices in our community by not being able to see and visit each other and that's made a huge impact on everyone mentally.

“The mental stuff everyone is dealing with is just as dangerous as the virus itself.”

Savikataaq said there's no doubt the flow of the community has been badly affected by the lockdowns.

But, he said, local radio is going above and beyond in trying to fill some of that void and keeping Arviat's sense of community is strong and vibrant.

“Everyone's still being entertained by our local radio station, which has become quite the thing during our lockdowns.

“And our second round of the vaccine ended this past Saturday (Feb. 13), so we should be in a much better position in two weeks from now.

“You look at the delays in the south with the various vaccines and we've been very lucky to have had the access to it that we have had.

“The community is holding up well and all I can say to that is that's Arviarmiut for you.”