Concerns about stigma, as more COVID-19 cases pop up in Hutterite colonies
WINNIPEG -- As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Manitoba, so do concerns about possible discrimination against members of Hutterite communities.
“It’s easy to point fingers I suppose, but we expect people to understand that COVID doesn’t know boundaries,” said Mark Waldner, a member of the Hutterian Safety Council.
The council is working alongside the province to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer announced ten new cases in Hutterite colonies on Monday. Roussin said there are now 20 known cases on three colonies, however, the province is not revealing which ones.
“Early on in the pandemic we’ve worked with the Huttarian Safety Council, articulating the importance of preventative measures,” Roussin said.
He also underscored the importance of not singling out members of the Hutterite community.
“Let’s avoid stigmatizing people. Let’s avoid calling out individuals. Let’s work together,” said Roussin.
Waldner said around 20 colonies are now under lockdown and that preventative measures and testing have ramped up.
Cornerstones of Hutterite culture, including church and communal meals, have also been put on hold.
“Travel is severely restricted, essential travel only for example. Visitation is put on hold between all the communities, sanitation is enhanced,” said Waldner.
There are also clusters of COVID-19 cases in several Hutterite colonies throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Both provinces have seen a jump in the overall number of cases since the reopening.
“COVID doesn’t care who you are, your skin colour, whether you’re a visible minority or not. It’s just going to reach out and find you, no fault of your own,” said Waldner.