It was a scary experience that has changed their community
in many ways.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 that hit La Loche in April,
Leona Janvier was a Community Outreach/Education Worker for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). But when the outbreak
hit, she was temporarily redeployed, and her knowledge of the community and the surrounding area put to good
use as a navigator for the staff members who came to help from around the
“It was a blessing when nurses who came from across
Saskatchewan came to help us,” Leona noted.
The community welcomed them with warmly. “It was also a
blessing to get to meet new people and become friends with them,” she
The hours the teams put in to their work, contact tracing
and testing for new cases, was endless.
“There was no break even during weekends,” she said. “I
don’t recall ever putting in so many overtime hours, but I did it, managing to
work every weekend in May and the beginning of June.”
They worked as a team, she stressed, planning door-to-door
visits with her teammates Rita Janvier, Dorilda Piche and Carol Piche. They
distributed house numbers and lists of names of those in every household, which
helped those from around the province navigate the community more confidently.
Janvier is extremely proud of what she and her team accomplished.
“We had to cover every house in a week – including Bear Creek, Descharme Lake,
Garson Lake and Black Point. It was
The changes instituted because of the outbreak – the
emphasis placed on physical distancing, no visiting, new curfews, roadblocks,
suspended travel – have all had a big impact on her and her community, bringing
a lot of frustration, anger and sadness.
What’s impacted her and the community the most, she feels,
is that they’ve lost elders and at the same time, lost their ability to mourn
them as they traditionally would.
“In times when we lose loved ones, we as a community usually
get together and support each other. Because of COVID-19, that didn’t happen.
That hit me the hardest.”
The lessons she’s learned from this outbreak will not soon
“If anything like this arises in my community again, I am
prepared to battle it and work as a team,” she said.