The Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) has spent the past two-and-a-half months delivering thousands of dollars’ worth of infant supplies to communities after shortages triggered by COVID-19-related “panic-buying.”
CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnston said in an interview June 11 that the effort began in early April when CYFN received a request for help from Old Crow, where 14 families were either expecting or had just had babies.
“It was basically when we had the pandemic in full flight there and pretty well everything was under pressure, including toilet paper and everything else,” Johnston said, adding that after receiving that request for assistance, CYFN assumed that other communities were probably experiencing infant supply issues too.
According to a press release on June 9, CYFN ended up purchasing about $15,000 worth of goods, with businesses including Shoppers Drug Mart, Save-On-Foods and A1 Delivery donating supplies or services as well.
The supplies include 171 boxes of wipes, 202 boxes of diapers and 111 containers of powdered formula.
Johnston said that all 12 Yukon First Nations outside of Whitehorse had received supplies, with the last of the deliveries expected to happen this week.
The News reached out to several Yukon First Nations; Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in spokesperson Wayne Potoroka said the First Nation hadn’t received anything but that a delivery was “in the works,” while White River First Nation executive director Sid Vander Meer and Selkirk First Nation Crow Councillor Ashley Edzerza both confirmed they’d received supplies.
In Selkirk First Nation’s case, Edzerza, who’s also the parent capacity program coordinator, wrote in a June 10 email that families in Pelly Crossing had received diapers and formula, with more wipes and formula expected to be received soon.
“(The) families were very (grateful) as some could not or did not have the means to get to town. Others were just happy for the small financial relief,” she wrote.
Johnston said he was happy that CYFN was able to help families.
“At the end, especially when it comes to little kids, diapers, formula and wipes are probably the three most important aspects of a baby’s upbringing,” he said. “… It was great for us to be able to help and support, especially because it’s easier for us to run downtown to Superstore or Save-On-Foods to buy products, but maybe not so much in Ross River, Old Crow.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org