B.C. couple accused of flying to Yukon for vaccine test negative for COVID-19

·3 min read

A Vancouver couple who allegedly violated Yukon's public health rules and got vaccinated in the small community of Beaver Creek have tested negative for COVID-19, says the community's COVID-19 inter-agency team lead.

Janet Vander Meer said a lawyer for Rodney and Ekaterina Baker called the community Saturday morning with the couple's negative test results.

"It was a relief," said Vander Meer. "At the same time, the outrage has not subsided."

The Bakers are accused of breaking Yukon's COVID-19 rules by chartering a plane to the community about 450 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse near the Alaska border.

According to Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker, when the pair arrived in Beaver Creek, they claimed they were new employees at a local motel and got vaccinated at a mobile clinic that was giving doses of the Moderna vaccine to community members.

Until recently, Rodney was the president and CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. He resigned on Jan. 24, days after he and Ekaterina, an actress, made their fateful trip North.

The couple now face charges under the territorial Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) for failing to self-isolate and to adhere to entry declarations.

When asked whether the Bakers had apologized to Beaver Creek residents, Vander Meer said she couldn't comment. She also couldn't confirm whether the couple had reached out to the community directly.

'I'm over the media and the spectacle'

After news of the incident broke, Beaver Creek, which has a population of around 100, was thrust into the international spotlight.

Vander Meer says the community has fielded requests from media includingThe Globe and Mail, The New York Times, and even a celebrity news outlet.

"I'm over the media and the spectacle of them being multimillionaires," she said. "Yeah, we get that. We heard that. But we still have challenges within this community, as a border community, with people crossing the border and coming back and not self-isolating."

Rule breakers are an ongoing issue

Submitted by Janet Vander Meer
Submitted by Janet Vander Meer

Vander Meer says people breaking the rules by entering the community and not properly isolating has been a persistent issue in Beaver Creek since the pandemic started.

"You think the last 10 months we've just been chilling up here, you know, hiding away in our little homes? No. We've been working, as the inter-agency group, to keep this community safe," she said.

And they have. Vander Meer said Beaver Creek has so far had zero confirmed cases of COVID-19.

When she heard about the alleged CEMA violations involving a couple from the South, Vander Meer said she felt like she had let her community down.

"I'm still working through that," she said.

Vander Meer, who is a member of White River First Nation in Beaver Creek, moved to the community from Whitehorse to help with the COVID-19 effort. She said she takes her position "very seriously," and that for the inter-agency group, protecting the community has been a near-daily challenge.

She said one of the biggest issues has been getting people not to cross the Yukon-Alaska border.

"That's my challenge and it continues to be my challenge," she said. "That is the story, as opposed to the spectacle of this couple ... I'm still pissed there, obviously, but now we at least know that they are negative."