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'We all need people like Floyd': Fort Liard man praised for help during COVID-19 crisis

The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer praised Floyd Bertrand this week. From chopping wood to driving people to clinics, Bertrand has gone "above and beyond" to help people in his community, which is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

Floyd Bertrand has been chopping wood for elders, answering phones, and driving people to clinics

The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer praised Floyd Bertrand this week. From chopping wood to driving people to clinics, Bertrand has gone 'above and beyond' to help people in his community, which is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases. (Submitted by Floyd Bertrand)

It is said that in times of crisis, look for the helpers.

In Fort Liard, N.W.T., which has been dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases, one of those helpers is Floyd Bertrand, a local public health official who was praised by N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola this week for "going above and beyond" in his community.

In a regular update on COVID-19 on Wednesday, Kandola said Bertrand has been "an integral part of the rapid response team."

"Day and night, two cell phones in hand, he answered every call and rose to every challenge. He's transported people for testing and vaccination, gone door-to-door to hand out information and answer questions in Dene Zhati," she said.

Floyd's story is just one of many. We owe him and many others a thanks.- Kami Kandola, N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer

Bertrand has also been splitting wood for elders and people in isolation, arranging lodging for people, and keeping everyone updated on the situation.

"So in crisis, we all need people like Floyd," Kandola said.

Bertrand told CBC he is grateful for Kandola's comments, saying he's just doing his part to help his community and contain and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kandola placed the community under a 14-day containment order earlier this month, after a cluster of cases were identified. 

"People here were pretty much panicking and weren't too sure what was going on," Bertrand said. "When the rapid response team arrived in the community, I offered my assistance in any way that they needed."

'We have seen extraordinary perseverance from residents in Fort Liard,' said Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, pictured here in a file photo. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Bertrand said some nights he's answering calls until 1 or 2 a.m., only getting a few hours of sleep, but he tries to provide comfort to people.

He's also been driving people to and from the testing sites, as well as to the vaccination clinic.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "I sure was glad to be part of it."

Bertrand said he was the second person in Fort Liard to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and there has been good turnout at vaccination clinics. He said people are relieved the disease hasn't spread more, and that they were able to get the vaccine.

"A lot of the community members are calm now," he said. "They're all doing good."

The people who were infected are also doing well, Bertrand said. Overall, he said all of the community members did their part to avoid the spread of the disease — not visiting one another, wearing masks, getting tested and getting the vaccine.

Dr. Kandola echoed that on Wednesday, saying she's optimistic that she can lift the containment order on Saturday, when it expires. She said community members "chose calmness over fear, action over blame."

"We have seen extraordinary perseverance from residents in Fort Liard," Kandola said.

"Floyd's story is just one of many. We owe him and many others a thanks."

With files from Lawrence Nayally, Rachel Zelniker

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