“For the vast majority of our colonies, there were safe practices being implemented but as we can see in many other cultures and communities worldwide, people get tired,” said HSC chair David Tschetter.
Complacency and fear led to reports of “unsafe behaviour” in some Hutterite colonies, like hiding COVID-19 symptoms from doctors and not wearing masks in public, according to Tschetter.
This isn’t a widespread issue across all colonies, he said, but it stems from a lack of education.
“I don’t think this behaviour has cultural characteristics, it’s just people struggling with the pandemic,” Tschetter said.
Some colony leaders fear positive cases could have economic repercussions, impacting business and their livelihoods, according to Tschetter.
“When you have cases within your community, it’s no different than a city block in Saskatoon. We all have to keep on keeping on with practical protocols in place,” he said.
“We’re in Canada, we have public health orders, we’re part of society, we’re part of the food chain, and we need to retain consumer confidence in our products and services, therefore let’s show strong leadership and make the right choices.”
The HSC is also calling on non-Hutterites to use common sense.
It’s reminding people that just because some Hutterites are diagnosed with COVID-19, does not mean all Hutterites carry the virus.
Tschetter has heard stories of some businesses refusing Hutterites service. He said other businesses put up signs that said “No Hutterites allowed.”
“The call for common sense is like people wake up and think about what you’re saying here because this is foolish what we’re doing,” he said.
“Regardless of culture, faith and political leanings, let’s deal with COVID and cases and the mitigation of spread based on our common ground and our strengths instead of our weaknesses and differences.”
This kind of stereotyping isn’t specific to one particular area or community, according to the HSC, which oversees more than 500 colonies across Canada and the United States.
Global News reached out to the Carmichael and Arm River Colonies in Saskatchewan. Both said their members haven’t experienced discrimination like that.