Folks in Arviat have really pulled together to make the best of the challenges faced in warding off Covid-19, said the community’s senior administrative officer.

Participants in the Little NBA Basketball Academy proudly display the new playing outfits they received from Canada Basketball on Feb. 22, just a few weeks before all community events and gatherings were put on hiatus in Arviat due to Covid-19. photo courtesy Ryan Barbeau

Steve England said the hamlet, itself, has done all it can to make life a little easier for people. He said it’s been a real team effort on many levels to put precautions in place and, hopefully soon, get everyday life back to normal.

“Our community members are doing a phenomenal job in dealing with the situation,” said England. “It’s amazing. Everyone’s doing their part here from the citizens, to the retailers, the hamlet and the various Government of Nunavut (GN) departments.

“The hamlet went out and delivered 640 cleaning kits a couple of weeks ago, one for every household, and, this week, we’re going out with between 300 and 400 food hampers for people in need.

“We also have $45,000 worth of games and toys on the way to deliver to all the kids in the community to help keep them busy while they’re at home, and we’re also getting ready to distribute another cleaning kit.

“We held a unique community bingo practising social distancing that went over really well, so we’re planning to hold another one fairly soon.”
England said the hamlet has spent a tremendous amount of money battling Covid-19, which it intends to keep-up as long as necessary.

He said hamlet administration has been very proud and very happy to see how Arviatmiut have reacted to the pandemic.

“The GN has passed along $90,000 – which is great – that we put toward the food hampers.

“To date, we’ve probably spent about $150,000 in cleaning supplies, food, and toys and activities for the kids. We know there will be more support coming. There’s no doubt it.

“Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. also passed along $50,000 to every community which – while I understand they wanted to get it out quickly – was, sort of, unfair to all the larger communities like Arviat.

“We received a lot less per capita, but we’re hoping that gets corrected in the future. And we’re still waiting to see what the Kivalliq Inuit Association is going to do for the beneficiaries in the community and we hope to hear something on that quite soon.”

England said it’s easy to see that everybody, every organization, is doing what it can right now which, he said, is quite amazing.

“We’ve been meeting on a weekly basis with all the retailers in town and everything is good to report on that side of things.

“We’re watching the situation closely with them and the hamlet has done some bulk buys on hand sanitizers, masks, gloves paper towels and toilet paper, so we could fill the gaps in the short term, just in case there ever is a problem.

“There’s always a few in any community who don’t listen, but I’m happy to say we have very few in our community like that, and our community members are watching, helping and reminding each other of just how serious this all is.

“We have about eight playgrounds systems and I drove around one night with my wife and daughter and there was not one child in one playground – it’s not always like that, but, in a community with 1,100 kids, it shows the vast majority of people are doing their part.”


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