It feels like there are two Canadas these days.
On the one side, we have a country grappling with the third wave of Covid-19, with lockdowns being re-implemented, businesses shutting down yet again and the Premiers in charge during the carnage trying to offload the blame onto Ottawa. New strains are spreading faster than they can get vaccines in people.
In my birth-city of Edmonton, the organizers of the Edmonton Folk Festival, arguably the biggest festival in a city that prides itself on summer festivals, announced the staple event would be cancelled. Others are sure to follow.
On the other side, we have five jamborees scheduled this month here in the Northwest Territories. The Yukon Rendezvous just wrapped up and they’ve managed to have an election without creating a crisis. The only time we hear about Covid-19 is typically at a mine from a worker who flew up from the other side.
In one Canada, protestors spent this weekend trespassing on the Enoch Cree nation outside of Edmonton to tear down a fence placed around Grace Life Church. They also damaged the chief’s car. None wore masks. This organization has been fighting social distancing rules for months.
In this Canada, governments have largely caved in to demands from people like this who don’t take Covid-19 seriously. Attempting to keep the economy booming while containing a global pandemic at the same time has accomplished neither. Instead, it’s just a viscous cycle of lockdown to protest to lockdown again.
In the other Canada, people have been largely following a highly inconvenient but straightforward set of rules. Here in the NWT anyone coming in from out of the territory has been required to self-isolate for 14 days. This follows the basics of disease control — don’t give a virus paths to spread. We of course had the advantage of also being spread out far further than down south and having far less openings to close, but if the rest of Canada had followed that system it would have at least had a fighting chance.
Instead, festivals are being cancelled for safety reasons and the people who are complying with disease control measures are likely getting increasingly frustrated with the people who aren’t.
But here in the north, we did listen. We isolated. We masked up by and large. We social distanced. And by golly, it’s mostly worked. There have been no deaths in the territory from a virus that has killed almost three million people worldwide.
So long as we keep to safe practices, we’ve earned this. After nearly two years without its jamborees, you can feel the energy and enthusiasm in the air. People have waited for a long time to have this celebration and have been more than patient.
Let’s enjoy it. Because the reality of the matter is we probably can keep the virus out, but we’re going to have to entertain ourselves for a while.
It may be some time before we can see a reduction in Covid-19 measures in the territory — we’re basically waiting on the rest of the country to get its act together. So long as the rest of Canada can’t prevent the spread of the pandemic, the NWT is going to require anyone coming in to isolate.
It’s a complete pain in the rear, but it works.