As It Happens·Q&A

'Things are going to be great': Whitehorse Bhangra dancer celebrates his COVID-19 vaccine

Whitehorse is the first capital city in Canada to open its vaccine clinics to people 18 and up. 

The Yukon city is the 1st capital in Canada to offer vaccines to people 18 and older 

Gurdeep Pandher posted a video of himself dancing in celebration after receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Whitehorse on Monday. (Submitted by Gurdeep Pandher)

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Gurdeep Pandher says he wants people to know there's hope on the horizon. 

The Whitehorse resident, known for his joyous dancing videos, got his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The Yukon city is the first capital in Canada to open its vaccine clinics to people 18 and older

Pandher, a dance instructor, felt so grateful after he got the jab, he decided to celebrate the best way he knows how — with a traditional Punjabi Bhangra dance.

Here's part of his conversation with As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong.

Gurdeep, what emotions did you feel after getting your COVID shot?

I felt happy because, as we all know … people have been going through a lot since one year, since March, when we heard the first news of these restrictions.

Everybody had to adjust their life, and it was creating a lot of pressure, a lot of stresses.

So I felt happy that [the vaccine] is about to give hope to people that things are going to be great in future.

Whitehorse bhangra dancer celebrates getting COVID-19 vaccine

1 month ago
0:55
Whitehorse has become the first capital city in Canada to open its COVID-19 vaccine clinics to people 18 and over. When Gurdeep Pandher got his shot, he celebrated with a bhangra — a traditional Punjabi dance. 0:55

You post these videos of yourself dancing regularly on Twitter — I think almost every day. What made this one, this post-vaccination dance, so special for you?

I felt that I needed to give a message to people, especially to those who are not sure about the COVID-19 vaccine, just to give a reassurance that it's going to be fine. They'll see that me, after having [the vaccine], I can go to a lake, on a frozen lake, and do this high-energy Bhangra dancing. And I can still smile, and I'm just doing things normally.

It's going to be the same for you. Probably, you are not going to dance, but things will be OK for you. Things will be not that bad as you are probably thinking about them. Yes, there may be some side-effects ... but they are not going to be very major.

Can you describe Bhangra dancing, and what it means to you?

Bhangra is a traditional folk dance of Punjab. A long time ago in our farming community, this dance was created by farmers. Even after harvesting the crops, they used to dance Bhangra. All the Bhangra moves, they tell different farming activities.

Nowadays, it has become a popular dance in Punjab. So it means a lot because I grew up in that culture, Punjabi or Sikh heritage or culture, where this dance is done as a main dance on all happy celebrations or gatherings or get-togethers. 

This is part of my heritage. And this is a dance that still keeps me happy and vibrant. And I'm happy that it's making a lot of people happy these days.

The Whitehorse COVID-19 vaccine clinic opened to people 18 and older on Monday. This makes it the first capital city in Canada to do so. (Steve Silva/ CBC)

It really is. I mean, quite independent of this interview, I follow you. I'm one of your, what, 68,000 followers on Twitter? And every now and again, as I'm scrolling through the disaster of Twitter and there's all these terrible things, I come across these videos of you dancing, and it really does make me smile. It is this brief moment of joy in a difficult time…. What do you hope people … get out of it?

As you just described, those brief moments of happiness and joy. They are very important, actually. You know, in our daily life, we have a lot of stresses — stresses at work, stresses maybe at home.

But at the end of the day, if we find just a few minutes of joy, which is the purpose of my videos, they are so precious. They are sort of pressing that reset button. Our minds get lighter.

You know, most people in the Yukon will soon be vaccinated. It's a far cry from other provinces, like the one I'm in right now in Ontario. How does it feel, as a territory, as a part of this country, to be where you're at right now, so close to being able to say that the majority of people have received their first dose?

People in the Yukon are feeling really optimistic about this. They are feeling better. They are lucky to live in the Yukon, where a majority of the population will be vaccinated very soon.


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Kate Swoger. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
 

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