When the pandemic hit the north, people in Nunavik were advised to stay 2 metres from one another to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But that didn’t stop communities from coming up with alternate activities and supports to help keep residents healthy, both mentally and physically.
In Salluit, Saputjiqatigiilluta, a COVID-19 prevention and support group was formed and a Facebook page was set up. One of the more successful of their endeavours was the Distance Walking Club.
Coordinated by Peta Tayara with assistance from SIPPE House workers Susie Sakiagak and Lizzie S. Tayara, Peta explained they wanted to do something that would keep people active and healthy, while still following public health guidelines. Youth and elders were involved, and while they wanted to have more people involved on each walk, because of physical distancing they had to cap the number at 10 people.
Prevention and Promotion, Addiction Social Worker Flore Deshayes was sent by the Inuulitsivik Health Center to Salluit in April near the beginning of the pandemic. She helped facilitate the activities and the formation of the Saputjiqatigiilluta group. She said she learned much from the community. Peta and others showed her how to work with few resources to make positive things happen. Community workers really wanted a walking club because they noticed people eating too much and not doing enough physical activity during quarantine, which can lead to depression. The solidarity and collaboration that Deshayes witnessed inspired her. She said she was impressed with how the workers were able to motivate the younger generations, as well as showing workers from the south how to adapt their professional practises to support communities.
In addition to the Distance Walking Club, Saputjiqatigiilluta offered a variety of other activities, including: FM games, Tik Tok groups, a make your own mask contest, recipe sharing, elders’ embroidery project, and the distribution of ingredients with recipes to the community.