John Streicker, minister of community services, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Chief Medical Officer of Health, speak to media about the couple that flew to Beaver Creek for a vaccine during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Jan. 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

John Streicker, minister of community services, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Chief Medical Officer of Health, speak to media about the couple that flew to Beaver Creek for a vaccine during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Jan. 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Court date set for couple in Beaver Creek vaccine incident

The couple are expected in Yukon on May 4

The Yukon government said it is in the process of bringing the couple, Rodney and Ekaterina Baker, who snuck into a vaccine clinic in Beaver Creek last week, to justice.

At a press conference on Jan. 27, Community Services Minister John Streicker said the Yukon government is pursuing the charges. He said the tickets originally handed out have stayed, and the same charges will be served to the couple so they can be compelled to attend court in Whitehorse. The RCMP is investigating.

The Civil Emergency Measures Act allows for fines and up to six months in jail.

“I’ve also spoken with and heard from many Yukoners who are angry about the situation, we share your feelings,” he said. “Let me tell you this, we are doing everything possible under our Yukon laws to hold these people accountable. The RCMP are also working on this matter.

“We’ve done the most that we can under the Act to make sure that we’re trying to address the situation. So the fines are there, but also once they are served, they will be required to attend court,” he said.

The couple has been designated a defence lawyer, who has accepted service on their behalf.

A court date has been set for May 4, according to the Canadian Press, but the documents will not be public until the information is delivered to the Bakers.

Meanwhile, First Nations organizations and residents of Beaver Creek and White River First Nation are calling for more than the $2,300 fine that was declared on the tickets they received at the Whitehorse airport on Jan. 21.

“They put our community, Elders, children, leadership, and vulnerable at risk all for selfish reasons,” wrote Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé, a member of WRFN who has started a petition calling for a “more just punishment” for the couple.

“Please support us by signing this petition and calling on Minister Streicker and the local RCMP to pursue a full investigation and a more just punishment. It is important that the penalty seriously discourages any future similar behaviour,” reads the petition.

So far it has received over 4,000 signatures. The petition uses the hashtags #JusticeForBeaverCreek and #JusticeForWRFN.

The Assembly of First Nations Yukon has echoed the calls for a harsher punishment.

“It’s not enough that Baker resigned. Baker and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation have a moral debt to White River First Nation that needs to be repaid. Any type of reparations should be determined for and by the community,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.

The Bakers apparently entered the Yukon on Jan. 19, before chartering a plane to the community of Beaver Creek in order to sneak into the community vaccine clinic. They were fined and ticketed under CEMA for breaking self-isolation and disregarding their signed declaration.

The owner of the plane the couple chartered — Dave Sharp from Tintina Air — said like the vaccine clinic staff and residents of Beaver Creek, he was lied to by the couple and would never have knowingly transported the individuals or risked the safety of his pilot.

“We were misled along with everybody else. They deceived lots of other people,” he said.

The couple listed a downtown Vancouver condo on their official documentation when entering the territory, but divide their time between Toronto, northern Ontario and the coast, according to social media.

In British Columbia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that the couple will not be getting the second dose of the vaccine from them until they become eligible under the rules.

The second dose of the vaccine is supposed to be administered between 30 to 40 days after the first.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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