N.W.T. chief public health officer names and shames travelling reality TV star
‘Needless to say we will be investigating this matter,’ reads morning release
Violate a public health order in the N.W.T., and you're in for some serious public shaming.
On Saturday morning, the Department of Health and Social Services issued a release naming and shaming "Pike" Mike Harrison, a star of the reality TV series Ice Lake Rebels, for violating a ban on travel into the N.W.T.
Harrison, a homesteader with a remote residence some 122 kilometres north of Fort Liard, N.W.T., was in self-isolation in British Columbia when a public health order closed the N.W.T. border to non-essential travel on March 21.
With the shortest route closed to traffic, Harrison undertook a 12-hour journey through British Columbia and Alberta to cross the border in Northern Alberta, on the way to Hay River, N.W.T.
Harrison, described as a "wise denizen of the lake" on the Ice Lake Rebels Wikipedia page, publicly objected to the border closure in an interview with NNSL. In an update published Friday morning, Harrison told reporters he would not be self-isolating in Hay River as instructed, but continuing to his homestead north of Fort Liard.
"The brunt of the story is I am breaking the law," he is quoted as saying.
On Saturday, the territory's chief public health officer, Kami Kandola, released a lengthy statement that specifically "denounces" Harrison.
"When Mike Harrison chose to ignore this order, he decided not to do his part. He chose to prioritize his own personal comfort over the safety of our territory," reads part of the statement. "And he chose to go on to embolden others to ignore our medical direction by touting his act in the media."
"Mr. Harrison returned from southern British Columbia and through Alberta – two epicentres of this pandemic in Canada," the statement continues. "He fits the profile of a risky returning resident – the exact kind for which we instituted these orders."
In the statement, Kandola says Harrison's decision to travel through small communities to a remote homestead increases the likelihood that he will spread COVID-19, and require an expensive emergency medevac if he begins to show symptoms.
In his interview with NNSL, Harrison seemed unfazed.
"They will have a hard time making those charges stick," he told the paper, "and it would be funny if [it] goes to the courts."
The statement ends on an ominous note: "Needless to say we will be investigating this matter."
Harrison did not immediately respond to requests for comment.