Offices are closed and arenas are empty, but Inuvik is bustling with good deeds are residents took to the internet to quickly offer their services for their fellows in need.
Just after lunch on March 17, Jonathon Michel created a Facebook group called Caremongering Inuvik. Within 48 hours it had swelled to 476 members and counting.
“I read a news article about Canadians in cities launching caremongering Facebook groups to spread care and acts of kindness to others in need of support. I thought it was a great idea,” said Michel. “So many creative and caring offers for support for people in self-isolation. Babysitting is a huge one.”
Some residents in isolation have been able to get help getting walks shovelled and groceries delivered. One area in need mentioned in the group are people connect with elders via apps like Facetime to keep people connected.
Angel Simon offered to walk dogs, Melissa Rogers and her family baked bannock and donuts to give to those in need and Veronica Kasook offered to help elders and low-income families with their taxes. Lastly, RCMP officer Stephanie Leduc has been distributing activity books and crayons to help the young ones keep occupied.
Others used it as a means to keep the public aware of changes to services to help people cope, such as a notice from the Inuvik Food Bank which noted the group was waving the $10 handling fee and offering home delivery for elders with mobility issues. Eduardo Lorenzo Wright of the Inuvik Native Band identified himself as the point of contact for the organization and offered caribou meat for seniors, single parent families, elders and health challenged individuals.
All in all, Michel estimated the band of heroes had grown to 15 and counting.
Also available through the group are the GNWT and federal guides for self-monitoring and self-isolation, as well as a set of guidelines for helpers to follow to ensure safe handling practices — washing hands before handling a delivery and minimizing how much time is spent talking while making a delivery, for example. Deliveries are also to be left at is pre-determined location to prevent accidental exposure. Dog walkers are asked to use their own leashes when walking pets.
“Another part of why I thought this page would be good for the community is that it promotes the social distancing and staying home if you’re sick, proper hand washing and prevention advisories from the Chief Public Health Officers of the NWT and Canada,” said Michel. “If anybody has offers of ways that they can help or if they’re stuck and they have a need, this page might be a good resource for them. It is for a positive, safe and healthy way to help and support each other during a challenging time. Hopefully people can feel less isolated and alone, while keeping up the physical social distancing.”