By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Husband and wife Rodney Baker, 55, and Ekaterina Baker, 32, were ticketed and charged in Whitehorse on Jan. 21, 2021 under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for failing to adhere to isolation requirements.
The couple arrived in the Yukon from BC on Jan. 19 and by Jan. 21 they had tickets to take another flight.
The Bakers broke their mandatory isolation in order to sneak into Beaver Creek to receive some Moderna vaccine doses. This Moderna supply was meant for the small, isolated community of about 100 people – which includes members of the White River First Nation (WRFN).
Rodney Baker was the CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC), a major owner of casinos and race tracks across Canada, until Jan. 25 when he resigned.
Ekaterina Baker is an actor who recently had roles in the 2020 Christmas film Fatman and the 2020 comedy Chick Fight.
The Bakers essentially conducted an elaborate heist that involved multiple flights, ignoring healthcare guidelines and self-isolation periods, and lying to healthcare professionals about their occupation (by claiming to have worked at a local motel in Beaver Creek).
“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,” said WRFN Chief Angela Demit, in a statement. White River First Nation is also taking issue with the Yukon Government as the First Nation became aware of the Baker news from media outlets, not from the provincial government.
WRFN is asking for legal authorities to “pursue a more just punishment” than just fines, in order to deter other individuals from doing the same thing.
It should be noted that Rodney Baker’s total annual compensation in 2019, according to the company’s public financial documents, was $10.6 million. The maximum penalty under CEMA is a $500 fine plus $75 surcharge, six months in jail, or both. Both individuals received two fines, one for failing to self-isolate and a second for failing to follow their signed declaration, adding up to $1,150 each.
“We implore all Canadians to respect the vaccination rollout process and to not take similar actions. 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. WRFN was selected for vaccines given our remoteness, elderly and high-risk population, as well as limited access to health care,” said Chief Angela Demit.
The Assembly of First Nations Yukon also raised concern about the Baker situation. “Like so many, I’m shocked and angry, but not surprised,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek. “These actions are a blatant display of disrespect and an exemplification of true privilege and entitlement; a selfish millionaire and his wife, stole doses of the vaccine from a vulnerable population, and put an entire community, nation and region at risk.”
“It’s not enough that Baker resigned. Baker and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation have a moral debt to White River First Nation that needs to be repaid. Any type of reparations should be determined for and by the community,” Adamek said.