A new group has formed in Yellowknife to help families in isolation get groceries and other essentials in the coming weeks.
The NWT government announced on Sunday that all schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, and Ndilǫ are closed after six confirmed and 10 probable cases of Covid-19 were identified this weekend. That number had grown to eight confirmed and 12 probable cases by Monday lunchtime.
Now, all students, staff and others who went to NJ Macpherson School last week are considered close contacts and must isolate for the next 14 days alongside their household members.
As a number of families in the city head into isolation, a new Facebook group – NJ Macpherson Isolation Volunteers – has stepped up to lend a helping hand.
Andrea Sluggett is one of the group’s founders. When she found out about the cluster at the Yellowknife school, she said she had a tough time falling asleep that night.
“I just couldn’t wrap my head around it,” she said. “When I woke up the next morning, I thought, the only thing I can do is offer to help people. If you need your groceries picked up, if you need your essentials picked up, your dog food, whatever – I can offer to help you.”
Sluggett posted her offer on Facebook and was soon joined by several other people volunteering to do the same.
Seeing the community’s enthusiasm, she started an online group to coordinate efforts. It now has more than 300 members. Sluggett estimates about 200 of those have either volunteered their time or donated money to help families in need buy groceries.
“Yellowknife is the type of community that we do care about each other,” she said. “We always have.
“It’s a whole community of people who want to help. They want to ensure that our community members stay safe and stay in isolation, and they also get fed.”
Anyone who needs assistance can either post what they need in the Facebook group or directly message those who have volunteered to help.
Sluggett herself is still helping to coordinate efforts behind the scenes but won’t be physically helping to drop off groceries, since she is currently in isolation with her four children.
The next two weeks may be challenging, she said, but she has a game plan to keep her family busy.
“We’ve been renovating, so I’ve got lots of work for them,” she joked. “We’re going to be doing some small carpentry, cleaning, organization. These are all important parts of growing up and learning how to do things for yourself.”