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'Outraged': Beaver Creek residents upset by couple who flew to Yukon, got vaccinated

'They really put all of us at risk. I can't believe that these people lied, and not only that, but that the government didn't catch it,' said Rita Luxton, who runs the 1202 Motor Inn in Beaver Creek, Yukon. 

'They really put all of us at risk,' says Rita Luxton, who runs the 1202 Motor Inn in Beaver Creek

The Alaska Highway on the way to Beaver Creek, Yukon. Residents of the community expressed outrage after learning that people from the South allegedly broke COVID-19 rules and got vaccinated in Beaver Creek. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Outraged.

That's how some people in Beaver Creek, Yukon, are feeling after learning that a wealthy married couple from the South allegedly flew into their community — breaking the territory's mandatory 14-day self-isolation rule — lied about where they worked, and got vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I'm absolutely outraged," said Rita Luxton, who runs the 1202 Motor Inn in Beaver Creek. 

"They really put all of us at risk," she said, adding that her husband is immunocompromised as a result of cancer. "I can't believe that these people lied, and not only that, but that the government didn't catch it."

Couple charged with breaking COVID-19 rules

The accused were eventually caught, but not until after they had received doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, said John Streicker, Yukon's minister of community services. He said that when they went for shots at Beaver Creek's vaccine clinic last week, the couple claimed to be new employees at a motel in the community. 

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker were charged with failing to self-isolate and failing to adhere to entry declarations under the territory's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).

Rodney, who also goes by Rod, was president and CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and Ekaterina is an actress. Rod resigned from his post on Sunday.

The maximum penalty for a CEMA violation is a $500 fine per charge, six months in jail, or both.  

Rod and Ekaterina Baker are accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions in Yukon in order to get the vaccine. (Ekaterina Baker/Facebook )

Luxton said she's incensed that the couple allegedly used "their money and their power" to jump the line and get inoculated in Beaver Creek. 

"I think that the guy should get a $50,000 fine," she said, "because obviously, if they could afford to charter planes and stuff to Beaver Creek, a $500 fine ain't going to hurt their pocketbooks."

'They assumed we were naive'

Chief Angela Demit of White River First Nation (WRFN) in Beaver Creek said the maximum penalty for a CEMA violation does not do justice to the "potentially lethal effects" the accused's actions could have on the community. 

"How dare these two privileged multi-millionaires come to WRFN traditional territory, and the small community of Beaver Creek, Yukon, and lie to medical professionals, putting our community at risk, to jump the queue," she said in a news release on Monday.

This situation continues to illustrate the deep-rooted belief that being wealthy and privileged in Canada means you can do no wrong.- Janet Vander Meer, White River First Nation's COVID-19 Response Team lead

"It's clear to me that because we are a predominantly Indigenous community, that they assumed we were naive."

The First Nation is calling on the Yukon government and the RCMP to fully investigate the incident and pursue a "more just punishment" that discourages similar behaviour in the future.

Janet Vander Meer, White River First Nation's COVID-19 Response Team lead, said in the press release that the incident was "yet another example of ongoing acts of oppression against Indigenous communities by wealthy individuals that thought they would get away with it.

"This situation continues to illustrate the deep-rooted belief that being wealthy and privileged in Canada means you can do no wrong."

'Pretty pissed off'

Carmen Hinson, owner of Buckshot Betty's Restaurant in Beaver Creek, said people in town are "pretty pissed off," about what happened.

"Everybody has been pretty good at staying home and not going anywhere and stuff like that, and to have somebody come in here and sneak in there — it's pretty disappointing."

Hinson, too, is concerned that people who don't live in the community were able to enter and get the vaccine.  

"There were so many loopholes. That's what I'm kind of disappointed in," she said.

Travellers breaking self-isolation rules put so many people at risk, said Hinson, noting that the vaccination team is visiting communities all over Yukon.  

"They compromised everybody, plus all the people that were here to do these shots."

With files from Cheryl Kawaja and Jackie Hong

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