Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson believes that the public should be informed when a case of Covid-19 is discovered in small communities in the NWT.
“Personally, I think that it’s in the best interests of your community and the safety of the community to let people know that it’s there,” she said.
The GNWT has a policy that it will not identify small communities with cases of Covid-19.
The issue arose on April 2 when a case was announced by the GNWT in an officially unidentified “small community,” which was quickly identified as Fort Resolution by residents via Facebook.
“I guess my concern is, if you look at what they’re doing in Nunavut, the chief public health officer there will let the smaller communities know if there’s a case there,” said Jameson.
The mayor said one of her concerns with the case in Fort Resolution is that she, the mayor of the hamlet and the chief of Deninu Ku’e First Nation were not notified.
“And really Fort Resolution is a big part of our community. We’re all intertwined,” she said. “Leadership isn’t asking for names. We’re asking that we be notified, especially in the smaller communities.”
Jameson believes that would allow a small community to ramp up messages to people against Covid-19.
Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer for the NWT, has said that making it easy to identify people with diseases can lead to them being abused, shunned and threatened.
“I hear her concerns that people might get super scared or whatever, but on the flip side of that should they not be and be more vigilant?” said Jameson. “So I do believe that communities, the smaller ones, should be notified. I mean no matter what you do, people know who.”
Kandola has said that Hay River – because of its larger population – would be informed if there is a Covid-19 case in the community, as has Yellowknife and Inuvik.
Jameson believes a Covid-19 case will eventually be found in Hay River.
“It’s not going to skip over us, I don’t believe,” she said. “That would not be realistic.”
However, she said the town and community residents are doing what they need to do to combat Covid-19.
“Hay River is very resilient,” she said. “And people are taking these recommendations and these orders very seriously in the community. Kudos to each and every one of them, and I thank this community from the bottom of my heart that they have risen up like they have to fight this thing.”