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A wealthy Canadian couple allegedly traveled to a small town and posed as motel workers so they could get access to the COVID-19 vaccine, receiving doses meant for vulnerable Indigenous elders.
Rodney Baker, the 55-year-old ex-CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and his 32-year-old wife Ekaterina Baker, a Russian-born aspiring actor, flew from Vancouver, where they live, to Whitehorse, Yukon last week, the Washington Post reports. Then, instead of doing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, the couple chartered a plane to the tiny town of Beaver Creek, near the Alaskan border. Most residents of the town, which boasts a tiny population of just around 100, are members of the White River First Nation.
The Bakers went to a mobile vaccination clinic, which was intended to prioritize vulnerable Indigenous elders, and allegedly posed as new workers at a local motel, the CBC reports.
Suspicions were reportedly raised when the couple asked for a ride to the airport after receiving their shots.
“People were like, ‘Well, why would you be going to the airport?’” Yukon community services minister John Streicker told the CBC.
Charged with violating the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for failing self-isolate and follow travel declarations, each Baker faces fines of about $1,000. They also face a possible jail stint of up to six months. They reportedly have up to a month to pay the fines or plead not guilty and go to trial.
Their alleged actions have stirred up reactions of disgust.
“I can’t believe I’ve ever seen or heard of such a despicable, disgusting sense of entitlement and lack of a moral compass,” Mike Farnworth, the British Columbia solicitor general, said on Monday, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Rodney has resigned from his position as CEO and president of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which owns more than 20 casinos in the country, following the charges. Rodney was raking in millions at the post; he apparently earned more than $10.6 million in 2019, the Washington Post reports. The company is currently under investigation for an alleged money laundering scheme.
Ekaterina’s IMDB touts her as a “young Eastern European version of Charlize Theron.” She appeared in several movies in 2020, including “Fatman’ and “Chick Fight.”
The White River First Nation condemned the couple’s alleged actions, and are asking for more harsh penalties against them.
Janet Vander Meer, the head of the White River First Nation’s coronavirus response team, called it “another example of ongoing acts of oppression against Indigenous communities by wealthy individuals that thought they would get away with it,” in a statement obtained by the Washington Post.
It’s not clear if the couple have retained lawyers.
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