It all started when Ida Taylor and her sister were out having a cigarette in front of the Larga House Edmonton, where they were staying at the beginning of September.
“She’s like ‘I found this bug on me’, and I put it in a cup and sprayed it with Lysol and killed off it right away,” she said. “I brought it to the manager and showed her. I’ve dealt with bed bugs before and I know this is a bed bug. She said she would go deal with it.”
However, Taylor says after she began warning other guests at the building about the potential bed bug problem and to check their bodies for bites, the manager told her to keep quiet.
“I wasn’t going all crazy or nothing, but all of a sudden I get called back into the manager’s office,” said Taylor. “She exclaimed, very rudely, that I shouldn’t be warning people. I shouldn’t be saying anything at all.
“Basically she told me to keep my mouth shut very rudely.”
Taylor said the manager confirmed there were bed bugs in her room and the pair were moved to another hotel.
Labeling itself as a ‘second home for Inuit patients,’ Larga House is a 35-bed boarding house intended for NWT and Nunavut residents who need to travel to Edmonton for medical treatment. It has been in operation for 25 years.
Larga president Casey Adlem said the organization has been the unfair target of social media rumours.
“In early September, a guest at Larga Ltd. shared false information on social media regarding bed bugs, causing guests and people of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut unnecessary concern,” she wrote in a statement to Inuvik Drum. “A guest staying at Larga complained of bed bugs in their room and the situation was immediately treated and eliminated in less than a 24-hour period. The guest did not go into any other bedroom at Larga Ltd., so the issue was resolved very quickly.
“We have never had a serious situation with bed bugs at Larga Ltd. in the eight years that I have been involved in overseeing management and operations. It’s unfortunate that the information shared on social media was not factually correct. Larga Ltd. has excellent staff who work very hard to provide services to the people of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and will continue to do so.”
Another person who have stayed there defended Larga House.
“My son was born with a cleft palate,” said Ashlee Jay. “During the first 18 months we went every other month for appointments. The staff was very supportive, right from our needs, down to our trips via bus to the hospitals. I love how it’s full of indigenous people, it feels like home and you often see a lot of people from your very own community, therefore the support is there when you need a shoulder to lean on.”
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chairman Duane Smith said he supported the organization but called for more inspections of medical and residential facilities used by IRC beneficiaries.
“IRC is supportive of the health facilities that provide this service and stress the importance of maintaining the highest service for the health and safety of all who depend on such service, including the staff,” he said. “We support the need for routine inspections to ensure the highest health standards are in place along with training to staff to conduct such inspections and a plan in place to address any findings if and when required.”
For her part, Taylor said she and her sister needed to return to Edmonton within a few days, but would not stay at Larga House again.
Instead, she said she is looking into finding a place to stay with a relative in Edmonton.
“I don’t where we’re going to be staying or what’s happening,” she said. “I was the one that reported the bed bugs first and I was the one that was told to shut up and be quiet, and I’m not.
“We’re not going to be staying at Larga. I refuse to, my sister refuses to and we do have the right to refuse. If it happens we have to stay at our relative’s place, we will.
“This health system is all messed up.”