The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are being documented in Hay River as they happen.
Tom Lakusta, chair of the Hay River Museum Society, said the pandemic is certainly historic.
“The museum society is all about history, so it fit for us pretty well,” he said. “And we thought the best way to capture a historic event is through eyewitness testimony in both asking questions and allowing people to express themselves. We figured the best time to do that is while the event is still unfolding, while it’s still happening.”
Lakusta explained the society is using its Facebook site to gather people’s comments, along with photos.
“The thought was to pose questions for people that come to our Facebook site about Covid-19 and about what their reactions to it are and what kinds of things are happening to you,” he said.
The questions began in mid-April, and the idea is to ask a new question every four or five days.
Linda Carter, the society’s treasurer and manager of its Facebook site, suggested the idea of gathering people’s comments and experiences.
“I think we’re a community family, and we’re part of that family to help us through these uncertain times,” she said. “That’s how I feel and that’s the only reason I did it.”
Carter noted the initiative is getting a really good reaction, having received 54 responses as of April 22.
She predicted that the future interest in the Covid-19 pandemic will be comparable in Hay River to the flood of 1963, another historic time for the community.
“That’s how I think this is going to be,” she said. “It’s a historic event, a pandemic. So it’s extremely historic.”
Carter said the first question was, ‘How has Covid-19 affected you personally?’ The second was, ‘How is isolation affecting you and your family?’
This week, she plans to ask a question for children, and will later ask about the economy and what people expect normal will be when the pandemic is over.
“I hope I don’t run out of questions,” said Carter.
Lakusta noted it is the first time the museum society has undertaken such an initiative.
“We have the opportunity to capture people’s thoughts and views right now,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to do it.”
It has not yet been exactly determined what will be done with the collected information.
“It’s really open-ended right now,” said Lakusta, although he did say the information will be compiled into some kind of museum display or exhibit.
While the museum society is collecting information about Covid-19, the Hay River Heritage Centre is not expected to open at its regular time in mid-May because of the pandemic.
“I don’t know when we’re going to open,” said Lakusta. “We’ll open as soon as the government allows us to.”