Moderna Covid-19 vaccinations began in Arviat

Arviat residents became the first in the Kivalliq region to start receiving the Moderna vaccine in the fight against Covid-19, with inoculations beginning Jan. 14 in the community.

The Government of Nunavut began its vaccination program at the Iqaluit Elders’ facility on Jan. 6.

Then-Premier Joe Savikataaq recognized the dedicated and exemplary efforts of those who had been shouldering the lion’s share of the critical work in the first round before turning his attention to concerns being raised on social media.

“There have been a lot of comments and questions (raised) on my social media during the past few days about this vaccine, and why I’m not taking it just now,” said Savikataaq.

“The answer is simple. It just isn’t my turn yet. We are making sure our most vulnerable – and our beloved Elders – are receiving these first doses. I’m not at high-risk. I’m not immunocompromised. And, despite these white hairs, I’m not an Elder.”

Elders leading the way

The Hamlet of Arviat arranged to have nine Elders be the first in line to receive the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 13 to show everyone in Arviat it is safe.

Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said every Elder who received the vaccination on the first day woke up the next morning.

Savikataaq said he truly believed things were going to get back to normal soon, especially once herd immunity is reached with the vaccine.

Rankin woman was Nunavut’s female athlete of the year

Shanti Dias, 18, of Rankin Inlet was named the Nunavut Recreation and Sport Awards Female Athlete of the Year for 2020.

Dias said she found out about her selection via email and that winning the award came as a complete shock and surprise.

The award was mainly for her exceptional performance in volleyball.

“Everyone in my family played volleyball throughout the years and they kept pushing me and pushing me, so I stuck to it and actually got pretty good as a player, so I just wanted to keep playing,” she said.

“So here we are and winning this award has made me feel a little bit proud and a little bit successful. It’s nice to be acknowledged for your efforts.”

Covid active in Arviat

Public health restrictions, including travel, were tightened in Arviat once again as 13 new active cases of Covid-19 were reported on Jan. 24.

The Arviat outbreak came two weeks after an audio recording of Diane Sammurtok pleading for vaccination in Nunavut was played during a government Covid-19 press conference at the Legislative Assembly.

Sammurtok had lost her husband, Luki, to Covid the previous month.

The powerful recording had originally aired over local radio in the Sammurtok’s hometown of Arviat.

“I will never have my husband back,” said Diane on the tape. “My husband, Luki, did not receive the vaccine, so he had nothing to fight it. Please get the Covid shot, so you don’t go through what I had to go through. Watching your loved ones pass away is not a joke.”

Rankin Inlet rallies against Covid-19

The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 was administered during a four-day mass vaccination clinic in Rankin Inlet Jan. 18 to 21.

Senior administrative officer Darren Flynn said he was involved with the planning of the clinic since it was first announced.

“I just think it was a tremendous effort, not just by the folks here, but by the people who showed up as well,” said Flynn.

The clinic saw 1,181 people receive their first dose of the vaccine. Flynn estimated about 900 of those had been given by the third day.

“I’m absolutely mortified of needles, but I was resolved to the fact I was going to put on a tough face for this one just to make sure I didn’t cause any negative reactions,” said Flynn.

Suicide strikes in Baker Lake

The community of Baker Lake felt the painful sting of suicide once again as two people reportedly took their own lives.

The youngest of the two was said to be a 17-year-old young male.

Men’s wellness specialist and counsellor Noel Kaludjak of Rankin Inlet said his heart aches for Baker’s loss.

He said a continued message of positivity and letting people who may be struggling know that it’s OK to ask for help are two things that have to continue to grow and be expressed continually if Nunavut is ever going to turn the battle against suicide around.

“Personally, when I have something to look forward to during the next day or two, it helps me stay positive and I’m eager to wake up the next morning,” said Kaludjak.

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