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Travel Restrictions Inspiring Cooperation in Border Communities

When the COVID−19 pandemic closed the Canada−U.S. border to non-essential travel, Donna Peter suddenly lost access to her nearest source of bulk groceries.

Peter is among about 100 residents of Beaver Creek, Yukon, who would drive two hours to Tok, Alaska, for much of their staple shopping.

“They have a grocery store there, a restaurant, a hardware store, a lumber yard. So, its very convenient for us,” she said.

“Usually that was our place to get away. Being on the border, where are you going to go? You go to Tok.”

Beaver Creek holds the title of Canadas most westerly community and—just 20 minutes from the border—it usually serves as a friendly stop for travelers to take a break along the Alaska Highway.

Like other border towns forced to respond to a rapidly changing world, residents have rallied around one another with generosity and cooperation.

Early in the pandemic, the local White River First Nation offered to buy groceries for the whole town, whether an individual was a member of the First Nation or not, Peter said.

In coordination with the Beaver Creek Community Club, they planned a five-hour trip to Whitehorse and collected shopping lists from residents, prohibiting only cigarettes and alcohol, she said.

“They went to Whitehorse, they put themselves out there, they were wearing masks and loaded up truck after truck after truck of groceries. And they brought them back, took them all to the community club, sorted them by name and then delivered it to your home,” Peter said.

“We, of course, the town people, thanked them profusely.”

No one from the First Nation was available for an interview but executive director Sid Vander Meer said in an email that members have now done six or seven supply runs.

As a pitstop for many tourists, Beaver Creeks businesses are also hurting during the pandemic.

Carmen Hinson, owner-operator of multi-service stop Buckshot Bettys, said her business is down 90 to 95 per cent.

“We have a restaurant, a takeout liquor gift shop, cabins, campground, a little bit of everything,” she said.

“For us on the highway I mean its affecting us a lot.”

The town of Stewart, British Columbia, is also doing what it can to help neighbors in the smaller, more isolated Hyder, Alaska.

Stewart Mayor Gina McKay said residents of Hyder dont even have a gas station and are allowed to cross into Stewart once a week for essentials like groceries.

“We really do see ourselves as one big community and I think actually this situation were all in right now with COVID has actually made us stronger because were doing everything we can to help them, whether that be bringing fuel to the border, groceries to the border, any essentials they need,” McKay said.

After McKay made similar comments at the outset of the pandemic, she said she got calls from media as far away as Abu Dhabi looking for a good news story, as gloom swept the globe.

“I dont think when I made those comments in March any of uRead More – Source

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