In a short time, Covid-19 took Luki Sammurtok away from his family forever.
The 59-year-old Arviat resident died on Dec. 19, a little more than two weeks after being diagnosed with the dreaded virus.
“It was very difficult for all of us as we were hoping to see him get better,” said his sister, Cecilia MacCallum. “He was very kind and humble person all his life … he was the kind of person who would give someone the shirt off his back. He was caring, loving and humble man, he didn’t judge people. He was always helpful, smiling and had to be doing something, whether cleaning up or changing furniture around at his place. He loved his wife dearly and all his brothers, sisters, their spouses, nieces and nephews.”
On March 11, the National Day of Observance for Covid-19, the flags outside Nunavut’s legislative assembly flew at half-mast. Inside, territorial politicians held a sombre moment of silence for the thousands of Canadians who perished from the coronavirus, including Sammurtok.
John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, offered his condolences to the surviving family members — Sammurtok’s wife and his four sisters and two brothers among them.
“Now, the difficulties of going through this pandemic is obvious, and when you think of his widow now, Diane Sammurtok, she contributed a lot even though her husband Luki had passed away, and although she was obviously grieving and her heart was also causing her issues, she continued to comply with the measures and publicly asked her fellow residents to faithfully follow these health measures enacted by the chief medical officer,” Main said, adding that Diane Sammurtok also encouraged Arviammiut and Nunavummiut to get vaccinated.
MacCallum told Nunavut News that there certainly are helpful words that others can heed in light of her brother’s death.
“I would like to quote what my daughter Naomi MacCallum said on Facebook: ‘I know that my late Uncle Luki would want his death from Covid to be an example to all. He would tell people how dangerous this virus is and ask that everyone stay home and stay safe,’” stated MacCallum.
Main told his peers in the legislative assembly that the crisis Covid created has deep roots that lie in a number of areas, and they must be addressed.
“I don’t think we will make any progress if we just talk about the pandemic without resolving our housing crisis that impacts our health, and economic development, as our governments have to implement these improvements,” he said. “Without tangible improvements, it will not result in any changes, but I really wanted to remember (Sammurtok) when this day arrived.”