Welcome to the world after Covid: where nuance has gone to die, and asking questions puts you on the naughty list.

During a widely-publicized mental health crisis that has claimed many lives in the territory, the hamlets of Rankin Inlet and Arviat have decided to limit the freedoms of citizens who have chosen not to get vaccinated.

The other side of the story is that we are in an even-more publicized virus crisis. It’s reasonable for people to ask for restrictions that are beyond the ordinary. “Limit the freedoms” can also be “protect the wider community.”

That’s the idea behind vaccine passports, anyway: like with masks, they may not be perfect, but the more adoption in society, the safer everyone is. That is probably true, at least regarding Covid in a vacuum.

The subjective part is where is your line in the context of a world that has many competing needs and risks?

I took the vaccine because I watched the stats during the roll out and could see that the benefits outweighed the costs. The risk of complications was very low, and the risk of a serious case of Covid-19 was much higher.

Likewise, I could see that the vaccinated were still contributing to the spread of Covid. In Yukon, where I lived, the first real wave occurred right after opening for vaccinated travellers. A second wave in the fall saw Yukon’s government introduce its vaccine passport system ahead of schedule, despite a 90-per-cent vaccination rate, along with a circuit breaker lockdown.

To me, it looks like vaccines, masks and distancing all play major roles in getting through the pandemic, but each alone isn’t enough.

One difference is the vaccine is a much more intrusive public health measure than the other two.

Being forced – and I do think the threat of losing the ability to travel anywhere besides the local grocery store is essentially force – to have a permanent, physical action performed on you is inherently a little disturbing. The language about people who refuse to participate in this is at best condescending and at worst violent. Communication dictates our world and we need to be careful about how we talk about people.

Obviously, there are all sorts of vaccines we have taken before, and we receive medical treatments we don’t understand and contain risks of their own. Reservations from the newness is understandable, but so is trusting the people and organizations who make a career of studying these subjects.

It doesn’t need to be a “sides” thing, but it has turned into one. It’s almost like we’re at war with our own people. Governments and media have done a stand-up job of ripping us away from each other during the pandemic, changing our allegiances from family and community to authority.

Although government action is necessary during a crisis, this road is fraught with darkness. We must ask questions along the way to ensure we are steering ourselves down the best path for all.

Mental health is as big or a bigger crisis in Nunavut than Covid. In terms of loss of life, it is beyond the impact of Covid. We recognize that community and social connections, as well as general acceptance of people with differences, are necessary to maintain our mental health.

So in light of that, how comfortable are you in ostracizing members of the community who don’t want to get vaccinated? Do we sometimes need to break a few eggs to make an omelette?

For me, I’m vaccinated, so I’m all good. If you aren’t vaccinated, I’m not worried about how it might affect me, and it’s not my business. I’d be more worried about you, but that’s your problem.

If we can turn the narrative from separation, division and contempt to acceptance, support and empathy, we can continue to work together as people and find our way through these challenges in life.

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