Yellowknife councilor says vaccine policy for urban facilities is similar to racial segregation of blacks

A Yellowknife city council member has compared a proof-of-vaccine policy for urban facilities with historic separation of blacks.

grev. Niels Konge spoke with most of his colleagues on Monday during a committee debate against a policy that would allow more people into the city’s facilities, but which would require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

King expressed frustration over public health orders that have often changed, saying government policies in the Northwest Territories create “classes of people.”

“I do not think we have to go very far back, and there (were) people in Canada who wanted to sit in the front of the bus and they were not allowed to sit there. It was not for them. And I think we do. same here, “said King.

The comparison triggered a response from Coun. Shauna Morgan, who called it inaccurate and inappropriate.

“I just have to be honest and say that I have been disgusted by some of the comparisons that have been made between the current experiences of people who are unvaccinated and historical groups who have been systematically oppressed because of their race. because of their culture., “she said.

“The experiences and concerns of people who are currently choosing to be vaccinated are very, very, very different from historical and current cases of systemic repression and racism.”

A month ago, King made news to compare the corporate experience with the Sixties Scoop. He later apologized for that comparison.

Concerns about justice

The policy in question would allow urban facilities to operate at almost normal capacity with up to 100 people indoors at a time, but these users would have their vaccine status checked at the door.

Councilors heard that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high in urban facilities where users practice sports and are in close contact with each other.

Without the policy, 25 people would be allowed each in the field house and the multiplex; 30 would be allowed at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool; and 32 would be allowed at the library.

Ruth Inch Memorial Pool in Yellowknife on August 27, 2020. The pool currently has a limit of 30 people inside. (Walter Strong / CBC)

Councilors who spoke out against the proposed policy, including King, Steve Payne, Stacie Smith, Rommel Silverio and Robin Williams, all said the issue came down to justice for them. Many argued that it would not be fair for unvaccinated taxpayers to be excluded from facilities funded through these tax dollars.

“This is not about a debate about whether the vaccine works or not – this is a debate about justice,” Smith said.

“In justice for our society, everyone should have access, period. We are supposed to be inclusive, period.”

Some city council members also questioned the guidance of the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, arguing that public health orders have changed so often that they are likely to change again soon.

Those in favor of the policy included Morgan, Mayor Rebecca Alty and Coun. Julian Morse.

The only city councilor who was not present at the committee meeting was Cynthia Mufandaedza.

Morse reminded councilors that none of them are health experts, and suggested that without expertise, the best way would be to turn to public health advice.

The policy will now go to the nine-member city council on November 8, when the committee will recommend that the council vote not to adopt the policy.

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