Mobile vaccine team receives warm welcome from Yukon community

Haines Junction gave the COVID-19 vaccination team arriving in their community a warm welcome on Tuesday night.

Haines Junction residents lined the road with ice candles

Haines Junction gave the COVID-19 vaccination team a warm welcome on Tuesday night. (Michael Schmidt)

Cold temperatures didn't stop the community of Haines Junction residents from giving a warm welcome to the team bringing COVID-19 vaccines to them.

About 140 ice candles made by community members guided the team's drive down the highway as they drove in. Volunteers rang bells and waved the team in.

Angie Charlebois is deputy mayor of Haines Junction and one of the people that helped arrange the special welcome.

She said the community wanted to make sure the health care workers felt appreciated.

"It's a lot of work, they're away from home and working long days … and to pull in somewhere and to know the community really, really values your hard work," she said. "It made such a big impact."

About 140 candles lined the highway into the community to welcome the mobile vaccination team. (Michael Schmidt)

She put out a post on Facebook with the idea for the surprise salutation, and almost right away many people showed interest in helping make the candles.

"A lot of people did about 10 or 15 each, and I think there's a solid 20 people in the community who made them, so it was pretty amazing," said Charlebois.

Michael Schmidt was at the event taking photos and he says his wife made about 40 of the ice sculptures that lit the way.

"The team were just thrilled. They came in, they've never had a welcome like this before," he said.

Many members of the community worked to make the almost 140 ice candles to welcome the mobile vaccination team. (Michael Schmidt)

Two mobile teams have been travelling to communities across Yukon since last month, vaccinating all eligible and willing residents. 

"They were really, I would say, caught off guard, and they were really appreciative of the act from the community that we made here to welcome them," said Schmidt.

The mobile team will be in Haines Junction providing COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday and Thursday. (Michael Schmidt)

He said it was emotional seeing the team arrive after months of surviving the pandemic, to realize that people in the community could finally get vaccinated.

"It's been a long tough time to get here," he said. "It really was a beautiful event."