Canadian Couple Who Flew to Indigenous Town for Vaccine Plead Guilty

A Canadian couple who drew widespread criticism for flying to a small indigenous community in January to get vaccinated pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating local coronavirus restrictions, according to court records.

The couple, Rodney and Ekaterina Baker of Vancouver, British Columbia, appeared virtually in Yukon Territorial Court and pleaded guilty to the charges under the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act, which was enacted during the pandemic and required individuals to they will isolate themselves for 14 days after entering the Yukon. , show the logs.

While the Bakers will not face jail time, they were each fined $ 1,000 plus a $ 150 surcharge, for a total of $ 2,300 for the couple.

Fortunately, nothing physical happened in this case; no one contracted COVID as a result, Judge Michael Cozens said during court proceedings, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. There was damage, but the damage was not from anyone catching COVID. It was certainly psychological.

The Bakers traveled about 1,200 miles to Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, on January 19. Two days later, bypassing the required two weeks of quarantine, the couple chartered a flight to Beaver Creek, about 300 miles northwest of Whitehorse, and posed as motel workers. in the area and received vaccinations. Later that day, the couple returned to Whitehorse, where authorities found them.

Within days, Rodney Baker, who had been the CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which operates casinos and hotels across Canada, resigned from him. Ekaterina Baker is an actress.

Kelly McGill, who prosecuted the case as part of the Yukon Legal Services Branch, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Beaver Creek, which relies heavily on Alaska Highway traffic, has suffered financially amid travel restrictions during the pandemic. The community became a priority for vaccines, in part because of its remoteness, and vaccines were made available to adults of all ages. Yukon ID cards were not required.

The couple’s actions highlighted both the complexities of a global vaccine launch and inequalities in vaccine distribution, which were further complicated by disproportionately high rates of infection and death among poor people and people of color. These issues were especially tense amid vaccine shortages and distribution problems.

Jennifer Cunningham, the couple’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

John Streicker, the Yukon community services minister, said at the time that he was outraged by the couple’s selfish behavior.

Similarly, Angela Demit, the head of the White River First Nation, called the billionaire bakers privileged.

It is clear to me that because we are a predominantly indigenous community, they assumed we were naive, she said. A clear signal must be sent that this behavior is unacceptable.

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