A wealthy Canadian couple were caught and hit with a fine after they chartered a private plane and flew to an isolated outpost in Canada’s Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccines intended for Indigenous elders.
“I can’t believe I’ve ever seen or heard of such a despicable, disgusting sense of entitlement and lack of a moral compass,” Mike Farnworth, the British Columbia solicitor general said, according to the Vancouver Sun.
As reported by The Washington Post, the couple has been identified as millionaire casino executive Rodney Baker, 55, and his wife, Ekaterina Baker, a 32-year-old actress.
The Bakers were both fined $900 for violating quarantine guidelines. But the White River First Nation thinks that’s not enough.
“It’s clear to me that because we are a predominantly Indigenous community, that they assumed we were naive,” Chief Angela Demit told the Post.
Health workers in the Yukon have been on a mission in recent weeks to immunize the elderly population of Beaver Creek and the White River Nation. Demit explains that "given our remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, as well as limited access to health care," the nation is receiving vaccine priority.
The couple claimed they were new employees of a motel nearby, and would adhere to the two-week quarantine procedures. But soon after receiving their Moderna shots, they asked to be transported to the airport -- which raised suspicion. Clinic workers alerted authorities after checking with the motel, and the two were stopped on route back to Vancouver.
Janet Vander Meer, the head of the White River First Nation’s coronavirus response team tells the Post that the incident is just “another example of ongoing acts of oppression against Indigenous communities by wealthy individuals that thought they would get away with it.”
Meer adds that not only is the breach of quarantine at issue, but the Vancouver couple could be putting vulnerable people at risk for COVID-19.
“Our oldest resident of Beaver Creek, who is 88 years old, was in the same room as this couple. My mom, who’s palliative, was in the same room as this couple,” she told Globalnews.ca on Monday. “That’s got to be jail time. I can’t see anything less. For what our community has been through the last few days. The exhaustion. It’s just mind-boggling.”