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Pat Burnstad – pictured on April 16 – was among the people in Hay River making facemasks as protection against the coronavirus.
NNSL file photo

Facemasks were being seen more often in Hay River as people protected themselves and others from the coronavirus. And to meet that growing demand, some citizens began making facemasks. One of them, Pat Burnstad, said the demand for facemasks started in early April. “We’ve got about five in our group that are making masks,” she said. Burnstad began by giving away the facemasks, but started to sell them on April 20 and donated the money to the Hay River Regional Health Centre. Rita Kovatch was also making facemasks with friends in a quilting group. As of late April, she had made at least 200 facemasks herself.

Covid-19 in the South Slave

The South Slave recorded its first case of Covid-19 in Fort Resolution, although the GNWT would only confirm on April 2 that the case was in a small community. A number of people in Fort Resolution, including Chief Louis Balsillie of Deninu K’ue First Nation (DKFN) and Tu Nedhe-Wiliideh MLA Steve Norn, attested that the case was in Fort Resolution. On April 2, DKFN set up a checkpoint on the lone road leading into Fort Resolution. The case in the community was connected to travel elsewhere in Canada.

Hay River makes noise for frontline workers

Residents of Hay River loudly expressed support for frontline workers who were keeping the community functioning in the face of Covid-19. The show of appreciation was called ‘Make Noise, Hay River.’ People stepped outside of their homes at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and made noise, often by banging pots with large spoons and also in other creative ways. The idea was brought to Hay River by Linda Duford. A friend in Yellowknife messaged her about an initiative in the United States for people to make noise to express their thanks. The first ‘Make Noise, Hay River’ was on April 4, and Duford estimated about 100 people participated.

Library begins home delivery of books

Hay River’s public library, closed since mid-March, began an initiative on April 7 to deliver books to people’s homes. Christine Gyapay, head librarian at NWT Centennial Library, said the home deliveries would take place each Tuesday during the Covid-19 crisis. The service would be provided in a safe manner, Gyapay added. “We’re literally just going to take a plastic bag of books and put it on the doorstep.” People could then return the books by dropping them into the book return slot at the library.

People self-isolate in Hay River

As of mid-April, 18 people were in GNWT-organized self-isolation in Hay River as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19. According to Ivan Russell, director of the public safety division with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), 44 people had completed the required 14 days of self-isolation and returned home since the public health measure came into effect on March 21. More people continued to arrive in Hay River through the rest of the year. Under the public health order, people entering the NWT had to self-isolate either in their own homes – except in smaller communities – or in MACA accommodations in Hay River, Yellowknife, Inuvik or Fort Smith.

Chris Ahn, the manager and one of the owners of the Japanese restaurant Yuki, stands in the business on April 22, just a few days before it closed because of the disruption caused by Covid-19 restrictions.
NNSL file photo

Covid-19 forces closure of Yuki restaurant

The Covid-19 crisis claimed a Hay River restaurant – at least temporarily. Yuki, a Japanese restaurant, closed its doors on April 25. “It’s Covid-19, this pandemic,” said Chris Ahn, the manager and one of the owners of the business. Ahn said the restaurant had to close down its dining room in March and revert to takeout only. “Of course, business is going down, sales are going down,” he said. “It’s hard to keep our staff.” Yuki opened in June 2019.

Snowmobile club upgrades trails

A project wrapped up in April on some trails for snowmobiling and other activities in the Hay River area. The work, which began in March, improved about 19 km of trail. Junior Barnes, president of the Hay River Snowmobile Club, said a machine removed all the stumps and trees in the way. Tthe work opened up the trails to about an average of four-metres wide, Barnes added. The Town of Hay River helped obtain almost $40,000 from the GNWT’s Community Access Program for the work, which was done by Brave Adventures Ltd. Club members also added light-reflective signs, arrows and kilometre markers to the trail.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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