Dec. 30 was a banner day in Rankin Inlet with the community being declared Covid-free as the first shipment of the Moderna vaccination against Covid-19 arrived.
Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said he believes the delivery of the vaccine marked the day the ball game changed against Covid-19.
He said he was also quite happy to announcement the lockdown in Rankin Inlet was officially over on the same day he was able to welcome the vaccine.
“We still can’t have any more than 50 people at public gatherings, and it’s still your household plus 10 for indoor gatherings, but we’re starting to get where we want to be.
“You still have to wear your mask and be cautious around other people, but we are now Covid-free in Rankin Inlet.”
Kusugak said shipments of the Moderna vaccine landed in Rankin and Iqaluit on Dec. 30.
He said from here, the Government of Nunavut’s plan will kick in and the vaccine will be rolled out first to those most in need.
“We’ll go with the Elder facilities and Elders first, and then we’ll just keep rolling along from that point.
“With shipments of this amount set to arrive biweekly, we’re hoping everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be done somewhere between mid-March to the end of March.
“The 3,000 doses we received today is enough to inoculate 1,500 people, with each person receiving two doses.
“If everything continues to run this smoothly, we should be able to have the entire territory done in very short order.”
Canada, as a nation, has been struggling again with Covid-19 recently, as numbers of confirmed cases continue to rise daily across the country.
Many experts cite Covid fatigue and the announced vaccine delivery as being the reasons behind the spike in the numbers.
As Nunavut fell to just three active cases, Kusugak said people care about each other in the Kivalliq.
He said having the region’s first Covid-related deaths reported was also a huge eye-opener for many people.
“People here care and worry about their neighbours, so it wasn’t a what-about-me syndrome here, it was about people’s neighbours, about our Elders and about the community as a whole – and that was the difference.
“You get down south, in many places, and you often get away from the community feeling because people think it’s not going to affect them with 300,000 or more people in their city.
“The party was over here when we announced our first Covid-related deaths. They struck a really deep chord with me personally, especially the person who passed away in Rankin because we had a very close relationship.
“Those deaths, in many ways, were when this all became very real for a good number of people. Everyone suddenly realized that it wasn’t only southern people who were going to die from this, but so was their neighbour.”
Moving forward, Kusugak said the vaccine’s arrival was the first step in reigniting the true spirit of Nunavut inside everyone.
He said if there’s one positive thing that comes from the Covid experience, he hopes it will be people being able to maintain the true sense of community feeling that people had in Rankin about 25 years ago.
“We were beginning to lose that and starting to get into that whole big-city-syndrome thing.
“Covid has made us realize that we’re only as strong as our community, so people have begun to give more and reach out more. Somehow, because we had to keep at a distance, it brought us closer together again.
“We’ve started down that path and I sincerely hope we’re able to maintain it and go from there as we try to finally end our battle with Covid-19.”