Red Cross brings healthcare support to Igloolik, Nunavut

Topics: Nunavut, Community Health, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada, Indigenous Communities, English Blog Categories
Laura Ellis | July 13, 2023

In mid-January 2022, the community of Igloolik, Nunavut went from its first case of COVID-19 to more than 100 cases in just three days. Registered Nurses Alisha Velji and Naomi Philion-Coutu were among the Red Cross personnel who were deployed to manage the escalating COVID-19 cases in the community. They saw firsthand how different COVID-19 support can look in an isolated region of Canada, noting that processing times are considerably longer for remote communities. It could take several days to get test results, as they needed to be sent to Iqaluit. 
Health centres in Igloolik were busy long before the pandemic. Tuberculosis, a respiratory illness that is rarely seen in other parts of Canada, remains a concern for many people living in the territory. Kristen Herbert, the Rapid Response Team Lead with the Government of Nunavut, recognizes the challenges of providing public health support in a region with limited resources and accessibility.

“The difference between a northern community and in the south is that the south has tons of resources. We’re working just amongst ourselves in the most isolated parts of Canada.”

Kristen also noted how valuable the support from the Red Cross was during the pandemic as it allowed local healthcare workers to focus on the other pressing medical needs of the community.

“The Red Cross nurses came at kind of the perfect time. They handle COVID on their own, and it allows me to be able to get back to other primary health programs within Igloolik.”

At the request of the Government of Nunavut, the Canadian Red Cross provided support to health centres in the territory throughout the pandemic by deploying nursing staff to lead COVID-19 operations. You can learn more about this deployment by checking out the video Red Cross brings healthcare support to Igloolik, Nunavut
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