For residents of a Hutterite Colony just south of Winnipeg, life has become more stressful in recent days.

Within the past week, a total of 20 individuals with COVID-19 have been identified in two colonies in the Interlake region and another in Southern-Health. All cases are believed to have originated from Alberta, though not all from the same event. Those numbers have left many feeling uneasy.

“I would say it was somewhat of a shock to the system for a lot of people.” Ian Kleinsasser is both a schoolteacher in Crystal Spring Hutterite Colony and a member of the Hutterian Safety Council (HSC) COVID-19 task-force. While his community has not yet had a positive case, he says everyone is feeling a bit spooked. Being in a colony during a pandemic, he says, definitely has its pros and cons.

terite colony is based near Ste. Agathe, 27 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

In particular, Kleinsasser says there was some opposition to the idea of closing church doors and limiting communal meals.

“Eating from home was a huge shift, especially for the elderly people who crave that community,” he says. “So we had varied responses.” In the end, though, most people willingly obliged.

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“It’s always challenging when you have to make changes to your lifestyle like this," he states. "And is It worth it? Of course it is worth it! When you are a close-knit community, you care for each other and want to be very cautious.”

Kleinsasser says he too has sensed a rising tension in his colony since COVID-19 began infiltrating the ranks of their sister communities.

“Of course we’re fearful,” he says, “but we’re also careful.”

Both men hope that their ongoing caution will be enough to prevent the virus from hitting even closer to home than it already has.