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Patty Hajdu “fell in love” with cultural anthropology at university.

Now, as Canada’s federal health minister in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s playing a leading role in an existential battle against a virus that promises to change the course of human societies around the globe — the very thing cultural anthropologists spend their lives studying.

“There’s a piece of me that’s still an anthropologist at heart, if you will,” Hajdu said in an interview.

As she almost daily urges Canadians to hole up at home and keep physical distance between one another, the anthropologist in Hajdu can’t help wondering: “How is this going to change the way that we relate to each other as humans? And this is global so how is it going to change the way the human species interacts with each other?”

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Hajdu also has a background in public health, having worked for nine years on the substance abuse and injury prevention program for the Thunder Bay District Public Health Unit, including spearheading the northern Ontario city’s drug strategy.

3:02COVID-19: More PPE being distributed; Pressure to release federal projections

COVID-19: More PPE being distributed; Pressure to release federal projections

Her education and experience in public health before entering politics in 2015 would seem to uniquely position the silver-haired,


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