arviat30.jpg
 St. Francis - Arviat, Nunavut


Still identified on many maps by its former name, Eskimo Point, Arviat (pronounced arq-viat) comes from the Inuktitut name for bowhead whale, arviq.

The Paallirmiut were the original residents of this area of western Hudson Bay. A self-sufficient group of Inuit, they were able to sustain large camps. They were joined by the traditionally isolated Ahiarmiut (inland Inuit who knew only caribou) and by sophisticated ex-whalers from the Repulse Bay and Coral Harbour areas. The way these groups hunt, raise children, speak, built igluit, make tools and sew cloths, all differs. Each group has struggled to keep its own identity while uniting to build a community that can creatively address social problems: 80% unemployment and a high birthrate that sees 60 children born yearly. Today, the community is seen as being rich in traditional knowledge and values, where Inuktitut is spoken widely and where hunting traditions are maintained.

The Anglican mission was founded in 1926, and brought missionaries Donald and Winifred Marsh of England to the Arctic. Their books including "Echoes from a Frozen Land" paint a colorful picture of the area in the early days. Donald later became the 2nd Bishop of the Arctic.

Work has begun in the community on a new church building. It is hoped that this building will be completed in 2006. The old church has been removed and the congregation are able to use the Roman Catholic Church while the new St. Francis is under construction.
DSCF0158.jpg
DSCF0168.jpg

arviat1.jpg
The Northern Lights Youth Group


Christ Church - Whale Cove (outstation)

Whale Cove or "Tikirarjuaq" meaning "long point", was created during the Keewatin famine in the winter of 1957 to 1958 when many Inuit faced starvation as the caribou disappeared. Federal government officials chose this area to relocate survivors of the famine. They believed that the abundance of wildlife here would allow the Inuit to pursue their traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping. Typical of government decision-making at that time, the site was chosen and the community planned without the input of Inuit. Little thought was given to kinship ties or the cultural skills of the Inuit. The settlement was formed of three distinctly different groups of people who spoke three different dialects. The inland Inuit had to adapt their hunting methods to coastal conditions.  The Anglican mission was established in 1960 and a church was built in 1961.