Fostering a sense of connectedness during COVID-19 self-isolation in Clyde River, Nunavut

Written by
Sheila Enook
Published on
May 29, 2023

My name is Sheila Enook, I was raised in Clyde River, Nunavut. I work as a Tuberculosis Coordinator. You may not know this, but Nunavut has the highest rates of TB in all of Canada.

We are working to educate community members about TB and hope to eliminate it in the coming years. We had one TB training workshop in Clyde River, but then COVID-19 appeared and we had to change our focus and think of new ways to handle the pandemic.

Inuit are social in nature. We share the animals that are caught that day so they don’t go bad.
We have family over every day to eat and talk. But that all had to change and most of us didn’t know how to deal with isolation. With a little over 1,000 residents we had to think of ways in keeping people safe. Masks are not easy to get at this point, we are taught to be innovative and follow the Inuit qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit principles). A mask-making competition was a way to implement the principles and to break the fear of wearing a mask.

People are hesitant to change by nature or maybe they’re shy, so I wanted a way to not put fear in others, but to help them accept the new reality that wearing a mask will be required to protect each other. Posting about masks on social media was one way of doing that and it promoted wearing a mask in public places. People became less hesitant to wear a mask in public and outside. I know we still have to make wearing masks the new norm to keep others safe and I still have to promote “safety” more than overcoming “shyness”.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us and will need to think innovatively to protect ourselves from COVID-19, and helping others stay safe is what I love to do!

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