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Canadian couple charged after allegedly flying to remote area to take vaccines intended for Indigenous residents

COVID vaccines in unusual venues
COVID vaccines in unusual venues 04:03

A Canadian couple has been charged with violating coronavirus guidelines after they allegedly flew from Vancouver to a rural area with a population of less than 125 to get vaccinated. 

On January 21, the couple, identified as Rodney and Ekaterina Baker, went to a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Beaver Creek, Yukon, even though they are not from the area, which is near Alaska's border, Yukon's Community Services Minister John Streicker said in a statement to CBS News.

One of them had a British Columbia healthcare card and the other, an Ontario healthcare card, according to the statement. 

After their visit to Beaver Creek, home to the White River First Nation (WRFN) community, Yukon Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) enforcement officials followed up with the couple. 

Officials determined the Bakers "violated the territory's self-isolation requirements and were not abiding by the declarations they provided upon entry into to the territory," Streicker's statement reads. 

They were each charged with failure to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into the territory and with "failure to behave in a manner consistent with the declaration provided upon entry into the territory."

In his statement, Streicker said he was "outraged by this selfish behaviour," and that he finds it "disturbing that people would choose put fellow Canadians at risk in this manner. "

"Reports allege these individuals were deceptive and violated emergency measures for their own advantage, which is completely unacceptable at any time, but especially during a public health crisis," Streicker continued. 

The territory's Civil Emergency Measures Act includes several directives to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including self-isolation of outside visitors. The set fine for each violation of the order is $500.

However, the Bakers were fined $1,150 each, WRFN Executive Director Sid C. Vander Meer told CBS News via email. 

In a statement on Saturday, WRFN said the couple's punishment was "lenient," and called for a harsher penalty. 

"These individuals made false statements to Yukon Government Officials regarding their intentions within the Territory, and willingly violated self-isolation orders," WRFN said in the statement. "WRFN is particularly concerned with the callous nature of these actions taken by the individuals, as they were a blatant disregard for the rules in which keep our community safe during this unprecedented global pandemic."

"We are deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our Elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes," WRFN Chief Angela Demit said in the statement.

"While we understand many want to have a vaccination immediately, it is not appropriate to skirt the rules put in place and approach our community in this way," the statement continued. "WRFN was selected for vaccines given our remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, as well as limited access to health care."

In an emailed statement to CBS News, a rep for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation said that as of Monday, Rodney Baker is no longer the president and CEO of Great Canadian. "He is no longer affiliated in any way with Great Canadian, and has left the company receiving no form of severance whatsoever," the statement said.

"Great Canadian's board of directors and its management team have no tolerance for actions that run counter to the company's objectives and core values," the statement continued. 

The company "strictly follows all directives and guidance issued by public health authorities" and "any such actions whatsoever that run contrary to the company's core values, that do not comply with GCGC's strict compliance policies in regards to travel, and ensure that the company and its employees follow all health guidance and directions, will not be tolerated," the statement reads.

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