Crystal Gail Fraser
Today, the pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 has touched every corner of the globe and the Canadian North is no different. Dinjii Zhuh (Gwich’in) living in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, alongside other northern Indigenous Nations, have undoubtedly been affected – culturally, socially, economically – by these measures. Dinjii Zhuh living in Inuvik have experienced unemployment, isolation, psychological distress, and other hardships. Dinjii Zhuh families have returned to the Land during the pandemic, where one can socially distance themselves from others yet still enjoy community. And our cultural practices and Gwich’in Knowledge have been passed on during the pandemic: storytelling, hunting, working with wood and snow, preparing moosehides for smoking, gathering traditional medicines, and much more. For those who remained indoors, Youth learned how to bead and sew, work with leather, engage in storytelling, and learn our language Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik. There is a need to better understand Dinjii Zhuh lived experiences and coping mechanisms through the COVID-19 pandemic. We have connected health, wellness, and spirituality to our ancestral Lands since Time Immemorial and today is no different. Accounts of cultural resurgence, resiliency, humour, and strength are at the forefront.