Elijah Dos Santos, from Vancouver, holds deep religious values that impede him from getting any type of vaccine. Controversial it may be, I spoke with eighteen-year-old Elijah Dos Santos to understand his perspective. Ultimately, he was presented with a choice: get vaccinated or sit out from the men’s soccer team for the 2021 season.
Without imposing my own view, I simply wanted to give Dos Santos a voice. The vaccine contention has left Dos Santos feeling shut down as he told me, “It really hurts. Of course, the consequences of my decision have been hard – training and playing for TRU has been far more difficult than I anticipated.”
Dos Santos described a certain feeling of segregation from his teammates; however, his decision came naturally as he holds his religious beliefs close to his heart. “I could never compromise my faith,” he emphasized.
Dos Santos has a remarkable history with soccer, playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps Youth Academy. His solid defending and sharp passes would have been key elements to the success of the Wolfpack. For now, he is back in Vancouver playing on a high-level men’s league team while doing his best to stay in shape. He remains undecided on his future plans with the Wolfpack.
When I asked Dos Santos how his relations with the TRU soccer team are holding up, he described it as a difficult situation for both sides but noted coach John Antulov’s support.
“I am not sure if anyone could have done anything differently. John has been very supportive whether he agreed or disagreed with my decision. His integrity was why I initially came here,” Dos Santos stated, revealing that although his decision isolated him, he was not completely left in the dark. Although, he did mention there was no formal appeal made on his behalf at this time.
As we inch towards normalcy in society again, many adjustments have been made to return to campus life. This September, Thompson Rivers University declared that 86 per cent of staff and students are fully vaccinated from a survey found on an 84 per cent participation rate.
Despite these high numbers, there still is a large portion of unvaccinated individuals who give reason to avoid the vaccine. With no exemption rules put into place, some feel unsupported. It has been a rambling road, and, like most aspects of life, it is not always black or white.