March 13, 2020 – Kuujjuaq, Nunavik – Makivik Corporation announced today it is cancelling its Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for the week of March 23-26, 2020 in the community of Akulivik, Nunavik. It is one of several measures the corporation is taking to protect Inuit in Nunavik from possible exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
“We are taking immediate action to protect Nunavik Inuit from the potential spread of the virus into our communities,” said Makivik President Charlie Watt from the Makivik head office in Kuujjuaq. “We are taking this pandemic very seriously, and are taking every precaution to lessen the possibility of the virus entering our region. Because of the rampant overcrowding in many of our homes, there is no way for many Inuit to self-isolate if they get the virus. There is nowhere to go when a home is occupied by several families. Also, our health system would soon be overwhelmed. We must take extraordinary measures, and we are doing this by starting with the Makivik Corporation..”
In addition to the cancelling of our AGM in Akulivik later in the month, significant upcoming face-to-face meetings are also cancelled. This will affect any self-determination meetings, and a Nunavik All Organization meeting and even a meeting with Quebec Premier Legault will have to wait. The corporation is also taking steps to cancel other Makivik sponsored events like the upcoming regional hockey tournament in Nunavik.
Internally Makivik is implementing a ban on travel for Makivik employees. This means staff based in Kuujjuaq will not be travelling south to Montreal, and conversely staff in Montreal will not travel to the Nunavik region. Technology such as the internet, teleconferencing and telephones will be used to the fullest extent to conduct business. Makivik is also advising staff not to take vacations in sun destinations outside the country, and has developed a list of banned travel destinations. If staff are feeling any symptoms, Makivik is asking staff to work from home, get tested, and not come to the office.
Makivik’s airlines – Air Inuit and Canadian North – have both taken special measures against the Coronavirus, and have publicized their actions on their websites and social media platforms.
The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) has up to date health information about the Coronavirus on their website and Facebook page. The NRBHSS is monitoring the situation daily and says the health centres are preparing for the event of it reaching the region.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The WHO also states that standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, and covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
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Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.