'We can't stigmatize an entire culture:' Former Hutterite urges compassion during COVID-19 outbreaks
REGINA -- Hutterite colonies have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past month. Currently, the majority of active cases in Saskatchewan are on colonies.
Mary-Ann Kirkby, author of 'I Am Hutterite,’ says that doesn’t mean every Hutterite has the virus.
"We can’t stigmatize an entire culture because of the actions of a few," she told CTV News.
Kirkby, who now lives in Prince Albert, was born on a Hutterite colony in Manitoba and lived there until she was 10-years-old.
The pandemic has forced a change to the way of life on colonies, which have upwards of 125 people living together.
Kirkby says colonies, for the most part, have done their best to follow the public health orders by dining and going to church separately.
"Unfortunately, the colonies that have really done due diligence are being just as stigmatized as those that weren’t as diligent," she said.
Kirkby believes part of the issue stems from people not understanding Hutterite culture.
"They need to be better at managing the message about who they are to the general public, they don’t take much time to do that and they should," Kirkby said.
During Monday’s provincial update, the Government stated public health officials will be visiting every Saskatchewan colony this week to provide information on the public health orders and offering testing.
The Premier is urging the public to support Hutterites during the outbreak.
"We should not stigmatize the numbers that are being presented day-by-day," Premier Scott Moe said on Monday. "Those numbers are a result of people doing the right thing, people putting themselves forward to be tested."
Moe added Hutterite communities with active cases have eliminated unessential travel between communities and worked to set up pick-up and drop-off options for mail and groceries to help limit the spread.