Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. has no doubt that the people in his community will rise up to meet the challenge of Covid-19 now that it has arrived in the Kivalliq region.
As of Sunday, Arviat had 14 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and Rankin Inlet had two cases. All those infected with the virus are reported to be in total isolation and doing well, according to Nunavut’s Department of Health.
Savikataaq said the continued safety and health of the people in his community immediately came into his mind when he first heard of a positive case being determined in Rankin Inlet.
He said luckily Arviat had a head start on the situation due to an emergency meeting of its hamlet council on Remembrance Day.
“We met as soon as we heard of the positive case in Rankin and council decided to, basically, revert to the mode the community was in this past March and April,” said Savikataaq.
“So we started this procedure two days before we officially went code red with our own first confirmed case.
“To be honest, I had held onto my own personal hopes of this not coming here because the efforts the Government of Nunavut (GN) had put into place were proving to be very effective.
“But, I guess, it was just a matter of time here because of our close relationship with Winnipeg and the number of positive cases that have been recorded there per capita.”
Savikataaq said everyone has a role to play in this pandemic.
And, he said, everyone has a duty to do what they can to protect themselves and their fellow community members.
“We shouldn’t always rely on someone above us such as the hamlet or the GN to see us through things. Everyone has to do their part to protect the public, themselves and their families.
“Our community here is just amazing. It’s the friendliest community in Nunavut. As soon as they heard about the case in Rankin, even before the council held our emergency hamlet meeting on Nov. 11, people in our community were already wearing their masks at the stores.
“This is important to note because they were doing this without (hamlet council) telling them to do so — or someone above us telling the community to do it.
“It was just automatic because, basically, the people of our community have become hard-wired about it now. They’ve been preparing for its arrival and they’ve been ready for it.”
Savikataaq said now is not the time for Kivalliqmiut to harbour fear and be scared of the situation as it unfolds.
He said now is the time to be vigilant in taking all the necessary precautions to stop the spread of the virus.
“We’ve been ready for this and now it’s time to put all our precautionary measures in place and not slack off from them at all.
“I’ve already been on local radio here to ask people to remain calm, not spread any rumours that they may have heard and not point their fingers at anyone.
“Like my dad said, everyone should use that energy to help other people, not to criticize other people.
“I don’t have Facebook myself, but I’ve heard there’s been all kind of rumours flying around on it, and now is certainly not the time for people to get caught up in it and believe everything they’re reading on that.”
Savikataaq said it’s human nature for people to want to know who has tested positive for the virus in case they’ve been in contact with them.
“It’s a form of reassurance, I suppose, for the people who can say they haven’t been in contact with that person. At least I’m assuming that’s why people want to know specific names as to who has tested positive for Covid-19.
“I can understand that line of thinking, but there’s a fine line between public safety and privacy laws. That can be a difficult thing to balance but, I think, the contact tracing will take care of that as long as we all remain calm, vigilant and patient.
“We have the tools to stop the spread of this and I believe the people of Arviat will do exactly that.”