This Nunavut mom came to Yellowknife to give birth. Now, her family's stuck and self-isolating

Angela Hogaluk and her family had come to Yellowknife from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, so she could give birth at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

'It’s a little bit crazy,' says dad Zachary Cziranka-Crooks of Cambridge Bay

Zachary Cziranka-Crooks, left, and Angela Hogaluk hold their young daughter Rosa, who is expected to have a new sister any day now. (Submitted by Paula Cziranka )

For returning northern travellers, the task of self-isolating for two weeks is daunting enough for many. 

Now imagine doing it with four other family members — in a hotel. 

Zachary Cziranka-Crooks and his family are preparing for just that, after coming to Yellowknife to support his partner, Angela Hogaluk, during her second pregnancy. 

"It's a little bit crazy," Cziranka-Crooks said.

But they're taking it in stride.

Rosa Hogaluk makes a blanket fort at Stanton Suites Hotel, where her family's staying. The toddler's parents and grandmothers have been getting creative with how to keep her entertained. (Submitted by Paula Cziranka)

"Our situation is very fortunate in a way," said Cziranka-Crooks. "Other people are in a similar situation, but all of a sudden they're being laid off or different things like that…. Hey, we've still got paycheques coming in."

In Canada's North, many pregnant women who live in small communities must wait out the end of their pregnancies in a regional hub like Yellowknife, at a birthing centre or hospital.

Hogaluk and her family had come to Yellowknife from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, so she would be near Stanton Territorial Hospital when she went into labour. After a complication with her last pregnancy, she wanted to be at the North's most equipped hospital, her mother-in-law Paula Cziranka said.

On Saturday, the Northwest Territories announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19; it also closed its borders to all incoming travellers, with limited exceptions. 

On Tuesday, despite having zero cases, Nunavut also closed its borders to travellers and announced all residents returning to the territory would first have to isolate for 14 days in one of the cities that are entry points to Nunavut: Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife. 

Family taking more precautions

When Hogaluk's delivery is done, the family — Cziranka-Crooks, Hogaluk, their toddler Rosa Hogaluk, and the parents' mothers — will all be put up at the Explorer Hotel by the Nunavut government for two weeks.

Meals will be delivered to their door. Paula Cziranka, Cziranka-Crooks's mom, said she isn't sure how many rooms they'll have.

Right now, the family is already practising social distancing. They're taking precautions, such as washing their hands and wiping things down with Lysol at their more spacious home base in Stanton Suites, near the hospital.

It's going to be fun … literally any day now.- Zachary Cziranka-Crooks, expectant father

"When we do get switched to the Explorer … it will be a very limited environment," Cziranka said.

The biggest challenge: making sure Rosa, who turns two in April, has enough to do.

"There'll be less room to run, less room to put your table out and do your colouring and play with your toys," said Cziranka.

"Even here, she likes to 'go bye-bye!' which is to go outside for a walk."

Rosa on one of her 'go bye-byes' outside in Yellowknife. The family has been going on isolated walks around Stanton Suites Hotel and the hospital. (Submitted Paula Cziranka)

The Nunavut government has said people who are self-isolating will get some time for fresh air — information Cziranka found to be a relief.

She said communication has been a bit haphazard — that they're getting pieces of information at a time — but she understands why. 

Hogaluk declined to be interviewed for this story; between putting Rosa to sleep and being two days past her due date, the expectant mother was busy enough. 

Despite all the moving parts, dad Cziranka-Crooks is still making time for joy. 

"It's going to be fun … literally any day now," he said, about how he's feeling with a new daughter on the way. 

Plus, it will give his toddler a new distraction when their quarantine begins.

"It'll keep [Rosa] interested over the next couple days."