Nunavik community of Ivujivik in lockdown after COVID-19 outbreak

The community is almost out of vaccine doses, says the mayor.


The Inuit community of Ivujivik in the northernmost reaches of Nunavik in Quebec is in lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19.

There are currently eight active cases in the community of about 400 people.

“It’s hard to be isolated, it’s stressful,” says Salimuni Qavavauk, mayor of Ivujivik. “The community has been locked down for regional travels, there’s no school, no daycare, and public places are closed.”

Compounding the problem is that according to the most recent statistics, only 55 per cent of people over the age of 12 are vaccinated – that’s 30 per cent lower than the Quebec average.

Also of concern is that the community of Inukjuak, 400 km to the south, has an active case.

Its vaccination rate is 38 per cent.

The rate falls to 28 per cent when people under 12 (who are ineligible for the vaccine) are factored in.

Qavavauk says now that a vaccine passport is required to travel outside of the fly-in community, more people will get the shot once the lockdown is over – except the community is almost out of doses.

“We are expecting more some vaccinations in the coming weeks for the community,” he says.

APTN News requested an interview with the Nunavik Regional Board of Health regarding the vaccinations but didn’t receive a response before this story was published.

The Nunavik region battled a similar outbreak in the Spring of 2020.

It’s not clear if the current cases are the more contagious Delta variant.

“This time it is a more serious matter so we have to be careful of it,” says Qavavauk.

Police in Ivujivik is currently enforcing a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Currently, the fall hunting season is underway but families will only be able to go out onto the land with their own household until things get back to normal. Even then, they will need permission from the clinic to do so.

“The belugas are opening season as of November first and we are expecting to go hunting soon when there are no active cases in the community,” says Qavavuk.

Producer Nouvelles Nationales d'APTN / Montreal

Born and raised in Montreal, Tom cut his teeth working in community television in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory before joining APTN as a cameraman/editor in 2008. In 2015 he was promoted to Video Journalist. Since 2019 Tom has been a producer for the French weekly newscast Nouvelles Nationales d’APTN.