After several months of uncertainty, things are starting to get back to normal in Tuktoyaktuk.
“It’s business as usual,” said Mayor Erwin Elias. “People are not as uptight as they were a month ago. I think people are more relaxed, maybe a bit too relaxed.
“Alcohol is still an issue in our community, though I think it’s an issue in all small communities. But yeah, everything seems to be okay here. Dr. Kandola has done a good job with all the restrictions in place.”
A checkpoint to keep an eye on who was entering and leaving the hamlet was taken down a few weeks ago and residents are getting back to travelling throughout the delta, he said.
Thanks to a number of successful harvests over the spring and winter, Elias said most people’s freezers are full and that there is plenty of food to go around.
“Overall the stock is good enough in the stores,” he said. “The harvesting we had over the winter and spring was amazing. If you ask people if they need geese, no one has room in their freezers.
“The community is in pretty good shape right now in terms of food supply, and it alleviated a lot of the pressure on our stores — they’re still good today regarding meat.”
Elias expressed his thanks to the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Children’s First Society, Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation and Hunters and Trappers Committee for hosting the harvest.
He added the hamlet’s harvesting was still ongoing, with geese and muskrat season underway and beluga, fish and berry season on the horizon. Elias said he was excited to see so many people getting back to their roots.
“You have people out on the land,” he said. “There is no better healing service than that. When you get people living off the land, that’s the best medicine we have. We are really fortunate.
“It’s really important in a whole lot of ways. You’re learning traditional knowledge and realizing what you have in your backyard.”
Even though COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, one practice the hamlet picked up during the crisis will remain. Elias said he’ll continue to have inter-agency meetings on a weekly basis with other stakeholders in the area, which he says have been helpful for making plans on multiple levels.
“It’s a real eye opener,” he said. “Even if COVID-19 goes away, I think this is something that every community should do, because man, oh man it’s such good information about what all these departments are doing in the community.”
As the hamlet thaws out from both COVID-19 and winter, focus is shifting on how it can resume regular life. To that end, Mangilaluk school is hosting a graduation parade June 26 at 7 p.m. to celebrate the graduation of the class of 2020.
“We’re going to get the fire truck out to acknowledge the students,” he said. “It will be really good to showcase our eight graduates for 2020.”
While he said things were looking up, Elias cautioned against getting too reliant on the GNWT’s plan to re-emerge from coronavirus lockdown, noting that the territory was just one slip-up away from being back to full restrictions.
“I think we are going to get into phase two fairly quickly, but even if we get into phase three, we can automatically go back into phase one,” he said. “I think that it’s important that we continue to be cautious until a vaccine is in place. We’re still in a small community that has limited services if something was to go wrong.”