Inuit region of Arctic Quebec to adopt provincial COVID-19 passport

A file photo of a woman looking at the Quebec government’s vaccine passport called VaxiCode. It will come into effect in Nunavik, along with the rest of the province of Quebec, on September 1. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, has decided to go ahead and adopt the provincial COVID-19 vaccination passport, the regional health board said on Thursday. 

The Quebec government announced August 5 it would introduce vaccination passports for access to non-essential services like gyms, bars and restaurants across the province. It comes into effect on September 1.

It will also be required to participate in many sports.

Nunavik spans the entirety of Arctic Quebec and is made up of 14 fly-in only communities made up of a few hundred people each. Because of this, and the limited health infrastructure with the North, the pandemic response is managed separately from the rest of the province.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) has been studying whether to adopt the vaccination passport system since the provincial announcement.

No passport needed for grocery stores or nursing stations

No one from NRBHSS was immediately available for comment on the factors that led to their decision, but in a Facebook post they said the new policy would come into effect with the rest of the province next Wednesday.

The system will apply to anyone age 13 and over. People will need to provide both ID as well as proof of vaccination. Proof can either be provided by a vaccination certificate or on the VaxiCode app.

Vaccination passports will not be required to access grocery stores or health care services.

Nunavik’s most recent vaccination statistics as of July 10. Figures take health authorities several weeks to calculate before they’re released in order to remove southern based, and transient workers from the final results. (Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services)

Nunavik’s vaccination rate remains low compared to elsewhere in Quebec.

The latest vaccination numbers for Nunavik were released on August 5 and showed that only 28 per cent of people were fully vaccinated as of July 10.

As of Thursday, Quebec was reporting 67.53 per cent of its total population was fully vaccinated.

Nunavik has a population of approximately 13,000 people

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: COVID-19 state of emergency ends in Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory, CBC News

Finland: Berry firms moved harvesters from Lapland to East Finland even if exposed to, infected with COVID-19, Yle News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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