We wonder how Dr. Kami Kandola is feeling these days.

We’re not trying to do any Dr. Phil-level psychoanalytical stuff here, but we’re just guessing that Kandola – the NWT’s chief public health officer – might be feeling a bit unappreciated. We would if we were in her shoes.

She has led the GNWT’s effort that has so far stopped Covid-19 from gaining a foothold in the NWT – despite there having been five travel-related cases in the territory. That is an impressive feat.

Of course, Kandola would never admit to something like being unappreciated, but that is not going to stop us from speculating.

Northerners – those of us in the NWT, the Yukon and Nunavut – have so far not experienced the worst of Covid-19. That is no doubt partly due to the relative remoteness of the Canadian North, but it is also due to the efforts of health officials in the three territories.

Honestly, we have sometimes wondered what kind of pressure that puts on a person.

Most people just have to worry about their work – if they still have jobs – or caring for themselves and their families.

Kandola is responsible for the health of over 40,000 people, and trying to keep a worldwide pandemic out of the NWT.

To say that is a daunting task seems like an extreme understatement.

She is really in a position that was going to draw criticism one way or the other.

Impose restrictions that halted Covid-19 in the Northwest Territories, and get criticized for the effects on people’s lives. Not impose sufficient restrictions and see Covid-19 spread in the NWT, and get criticized for the effects on people’s lives.

However, criticism doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize the work that Kandola has done.

The Hub has been particularly critical of some of the restrictions on civil liberties, such as the ban on indoor gatherings and the creation of a tip line for citizens to report one another for violations of those restrictions. But we never questioned Kandola’s dedication to protecting the people of the NWT.

We are not ashamed to admit that we believe that civil liberties are just as important as health. Some might think that is insane, but that’s what we believe.

As a doctor, Kandola has dedicated her life to promoting health, and we admire and respect that.

Along with the other chief public health officers across the country, her efforts during this Covid-19 crisis have been remarkable.

We predict that years from now Canada will issue a series of 13 stamps – assuming there are still letters being written – featuring the chief public health officers in the provinces and territories during this historic Covid-19 crisis.

It is no exaggeration to say that they are playing a critical role right now in shaping Canada’s future.

Now, Kandola and her team have the unenviable task of easing Covid-19 restrictions to let society breathe a little without endangering public health.

So while we might object and complain, and call for the restrictions to be eased, it doesn’t mean that we don’t admire the work that Dr. Kandola is doing.

She deserves the gratitude of everyone in the Northwest Territories.


Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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  1. Good to read the appreciation for those who are on the front line, whatever the level may be. A wonderful and heart felt thank you to Kami, her team, and all those who are out there doing what they can to keep us and our loved ones, healthy and safe!