The Hamlet of Rankin Inlet’s decision to bar unvaccinated people from municipal buildings means one resident’s hockey career is over and he won’t be able to watch his children play either.
“Not able to go see my kids play (and) practice is pretty hard, for both me and my kids,” said Savik Ford, who is unvaccinated.
Since Nov. 30, only people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can enter municipal buildings such as the hockey arena.
“It’s pretty hard not to help them dress up or just give them tips for the ice,” said Ford, who now gives his four children advice from home. “I already explained to my kids (that) hockey won’t always be around. For my family, it’s more important to be together.”
At first, the hamlet’s decision “ticked me off,” admitted Ford, but he said he’s since come around to accepting it.
“It’s OK now that I’m not in hockey,” he said. “I already moved on, so I’m not angry as I was in the beginning.”
He said he’s not against the Covid-19 vaccines and respects everyone’s views on the issue.
“I choose not to take it,” he said. “It’s just my choice, so I’m sticking to it. Even this, the hockey game isn’t even important to me if I have to take the vaccine. That’s like, why take my freedom?”
He knows other people in the same situation as him, and some who have bowed to pressure and taken the vaccine against their wishes.
“To me, that’s totally wrong,” he said. “Somehow it just feels wrong for these leaders to say we have to take it.”
Worries of side effects are why Ford hasn’t been vaccinated.
“We all have different types of views on it,” he said. “Whatever people choose to do, that’s their choice, and I’ve got no judgement on them. I’m not better than them or anything like that. It’s their choice and we just move on. From the stuff I’ve been hearing, the side effects – not everyone’s going through it – it’s just, what if I’m one of them that has the side effects?”
He envisions this conflict extending well into the future.
“Everyone’s expecting everything to get back to normal and that won’t happen, definitely won’t happen,” said Ford.
Instead, he’s focused on his family’s future, staying positive and knowing that it’s OK for people to have different beliefs.
“I still appreciate my community, what they’re doing,” he said. “I just hope for the best throughout Nunavut.”
Darren Flynn, senior administrative officer with the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet, said in an email that “life as an adult is all about choices. Neither the hamlet council nor I have forced anyone to quit hockey or any other activity. If someone makes a choice, that’s their choice, not ours.”
He said people citing human rights for not taking the vaccine “seem to summarily dismiss everyone else’s human right to live in safe environment.”
On Thursday, Dec. 9, the hamlet announced increased capacity limits at the Singiittuq Community Hall Complex and Agnico Eagle Arena.
“This will mean we will have the ability to hold Christmas games for the first time in two years,” wrote Flynn. “It also means the arena will have the ability to offer our incredible hockey fans the ability to watch live hockey! Given these increased capacity limits and the ability to move this community closer to normal, I see no reason to defend council’s decision any further.”
On Dec. 6, the Hamlet of Arviat followed Rankin Inlet and enacted its own municipal vaccine passport.
Asked if Nunavut’s chief public health officer had advised either Arviat or Rankin in making their decision, Chris Puglia, acting manager of communications with the Department of Health, said the Government of Nunavut was not involved in either decision.