Diocese of The Arctic
St.Jude's Anglican Cathedral
Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
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Today is: Tuesday,19 June,2018 05:55:47 AM

The History of St. Jude's Anglican Cathedral, Iqaluit

cath1.jpgGothic, Norman, Byzantine types of cathedrals abound in Europe and elsewhere, but what more fitting in Inuit country than one of an igloo design.
The history of the Church's work in The Arctic and the close entry of the Mission and the Hudson's Bay Company to Baffin Island, goes back only some one hundred or so years, and came about only at a time when it was considered that white fox pelts had a value. In those early days, the Hudson's Bay Company boat was the only supply ship into The Arctic, and she arrived only once a year.
The entry of the Church and the trader into The Arctic,  made necessary the supplying of the needs of both Mission workers and traders. The closeness of these two organizations is commemorated significantly in St. Jude's Cathedral by the outer doors, which were the gift of the Hudson's Bay Company.
The Church's work amongst our Inuit brothers was unified as the result of a generous gift to the Church by the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company,  who thus initiated the idea of the Church's work among the Inuit being brought under one bishop, when instead of working as an Archdeacon under four bishops, the then Archdeacon Fleming was chosen and Consecrated First Bishop of The Arctic. At that time (before the days of air travel), the Eastern Arctic was isolated from the rest of Canada; the Aklavik area had many more connections with the South because of the great Mackenzie River which flowed Northward to the sea. But the Church history of  Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay) in the Eastern Arctic predated the West, for the earliest of all visits by an Anglican priest was as far back as 1576 when Master Wolfall, the Chaplain on Sir Martin Frobisher's ship celebrated the Service of Holy Communion. This was the first recorded Anglican service taken on Canadian land or on "this side of the water."
It was quite a long time after this before the Church, in the person of the Reverend Archibald Laing Fleming visited the Iqaluit area to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people at that point. It was the Rev. A. L. Fleming who later was to become Archdeacon and then Bishop,  who with Mr. Bilby established the mission at Kimmirut in 1909.
Bishop Fleming chose Aklavik in the far West for the site of the Pro-Cathedral, and a very famous building All Saints Pro-Cathedral became. With the election of the second Bishop of The Arctic, Donald Ben Marsh, the Diocese (already over one and three quarter million square miles in area),  had added to it an additional area of half a million square miles in the Southerly part of the Mackenzie River area. In 1971, when the Mackenzie River area plus Banks Land were made into a Missionary District and so were taken out of the Diocesan area, All Saint's Cathedral became geographically outside the boundaries of the Diocese. It then became an ordinary mission Church and in consequence the Diocese of The Arctic was without a Cathedral.
The Parish of Iqaluit had, by 1966 become self-supporting. Iqaluit Mission (which was originally an Army Camp) also included Apex, a town which the Government had built at a cost of ten million dollars, and which was situated some three miles from the larger settlement.
As years passed it became increasingly obvious that Iqaluit would become a natural centre in the Eastern Arctic for its population of over 1,400 and some 800 whites made it by far the largest settlement in The Arctic and obviously the place for a Cathedral to be erected. This was emphasized as it also became the centre of air travel from which an increasing number of places could be reached.
By the late 1960s the Inuit themselves were beginning to accept responsibility in the Church and vestries were soon operating in all Mission stations. Increasingly at Vestry meetings decisions were made as Inuit members became quite vocal regarding the running of the local churches. The Church of St. Jude's was not behind in this, the Parish as soon as it was able, employed and paid an Inuk Catechist to assist the Missionary-in-Charge with the pastoral care of the 2,200 residents of Iqaluit. Almost at once the Church at Iqaluit became too small  for the congregation and the need for an enlarged place of worship became evident. Now seemed the time for building a Cathedral. The original Church fortunately was a sectional one (the only such of its kind in the Diocese), and because Clyde River,  far to the North, needed a building in which to worship, St. Jude's was dismantled and the people of Clyde River received it gladly and re-erected it.
In the interim before the Cathedral was built, services were held in the Church hall, a sectional building purchased from a contractor which had been used for construction crews. It was some 80 feet long and 20 feet wide, and served as Church and Hall combined.
When first an igloo-shaped Church was proposed, it was ruled out because of cost by the Inuit Vestry at Iqaluit but recommended by the Inuit delegates at the 1970 Synod  held in Pangnirtung. The architect later reassessed his figures and estimated that the Cathedral could be built at a cost of $60,000. (It should be noted that like all architects, his estimate was much lower than actual costs proved to be.)
You may wonder why the Cathedral is named St. Jude's. The reason is quite practical: The Diocese in establishing the names of churches has been governed by two things; one that there should be only one Church of the same name in the Diocese, and two, that the names chosen were easily pronounced by the Inuit. Since Iqaluit and Apex churches are situated only three miles apart it seemed appropriate to name them St. Simon's and St. Jude's.
The people of Iqaluit collected over $3,000 in cash towards the building project and promised to do all the interior work at no cost to The Diocese. Thus the interior decorating was done; the seating made and all finishing work donated as their gift to their Church and Cathedral. This was the Parish of Iqaluit's contribution.
The aim as to what the Cathedral should house and its furnishing is that it should include and contain as many things as possible pertaining to the life of the Inuit, past and present. It is not desirable that this building be a museum, but rather that it serve as a reminder to Inuit and English-speaking alike, of the Inuit, their ancestry and skills and the wonderful part they have played in the Church.
To properly assess this, it must be remembered that for every 10 Inuit in The Arctic, there is only one Caucasian. We want the Inuit to retain their acceptance that they and others who worship with them, are the Church.
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Because the Cathedral is the "Mother Church" of The Diocese, gifts began to come in from other places. The Bishop's Chair was naturally transferred from Aklavik, as was the Pastoral Staff which many years before had been given by the Hudson's Bay Company. The Altar which is unique, being a Memorial to Bishop A. L. Fleming, the First Bishop of The Arctic; housed temporarily at Inuvik, came back to the Cathedral in 1971. It is the only Memorial to Bishop Fleming that there is in the Eastern Arctic, and a reminder that he pioneered the work of the missions both at Kimmirut and Iqaluit area. His favorite inscription is that which is carved around the top of the Altar (Holy Table):  "The Truth shall Make you Free".
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An Inuit carved the walrus tusks which form the Cross on the front from Kimmirut. It is indeed fitting that they come from the mission which Bishop Fleming established and first served in The Arctic. The carved Crests of the four dioceses from which The Diocese of The Arctic was formed, serve as a reminder of the Church's action in putting the whole of the Inuit work into one diocese. These are shown at one end of the Holy Table, the whole being a fitting Memorial for a man who gave his life to work among the Inuit. His name and the names of all who served God for 10 or more years amongst the Inuit, both Inuit and others, are inscribed in The Book of Remembrance in the Cathedral.
Shown here are the baskets and a vestry book - two of these baskets were used at the services on November 13 as well.

The very first gift to the Cathedral was presented in 1970 at Synod held in Pangnirtung, by the delegate from Inukjuak-four collection plates, woven from local grasses by the loving hands of the women of Inukjuak.

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Flanking the plain dossal curtain centered behind the Holy Table are six curtains adorned with pictures worked in appliqué by the women from the missions of Igloolik, Puvirnituq, Inukjuak, Kugluktuk, Baker Lake and Arviat. These resemble very closely the dossal curtains which one finds in churches throughout The Arctic and are the concept of the Inuit groups who made them.
The Cross, suspended behind the Altar is made from narwhal tusks, the gift of the people from the churches whose homes are the Northern parts of Baffin Island; Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Grise Fiord.

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One of the most cherished possessions of the Cathedral is the Font. The base is made of soapstone from Puvirnituq in the shape of an Inuit blubber lamp; the top is a replica of a cooking pot from soapstone -a gift of the people of Inukjuak; the three supporting narwhal tusks are from the Baffin Island people who presented the tusks for the Cross. The silver bowl set inside the top is a gift from Her Majesty the Queen. This was not just a formal gift, it serves as a reminder to the Inuit of the visit of Her Majesty, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, to the Apex Church, to attend the Inuit Evening Service. The attendance was at the Queen's own request and the Inuit greatly appreciated this gesture, which they will never forget. It was at this time that Her Majesty graciously broke the ground for the Cathedral.

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     We were hoping that this igloo-shaped building will always serve as a reminder to the Inuit and other people in The Arctic, that it is their Cathedral; that it contains many things which cannot now be found in The Arctic-examples of this are found in the Hymn Boards,  made in the shape of snow shovels made many years ago; the sled shaped Communion Rails and the Pulpit with Lectern, which serve as reminders of the thousands of miles traveled by missionaries in early years, by dog team across the Northern tip of the world to take to the Inuit the Gospel of Christ.
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The Cathedral, erected by the Inuit under the very capable leadership of Peter Markosie, is a tribute to the abilities of the Inuit and gives way to no other building in Iqaluit in its care of construction. Many a tale could be told of problems met and conquered by the workers; as for example the architect, sending in a provisionary set of plans for the foundations (a complicated lay out of cement supports) and how horrified he was to hear that because the final blueprints had not arrived, the foundations bad been poured from this plan. They were correct ! ! ! With true Inuit acumen an answer was found when it was discovered later that two of the laminated beams had become warped in transit-the holes drilled with care in the south would not fit over the bolts set into the concrete supports; the problem was solved by borrowing a bulldozer and a chain, and gently tugging the foundation blocks around until they fitted the slightly warped beams.

11212005_34155_1.bmp  Peter Markoosie                                      11212005_34238_2.bmp
One annual supply ship into The Arctic has always been the rule in the past, for frozen seas for the greater part of the year   prevent winter shipping (and winter lasts -  a long time in The Arctic), on such a boat, all materials and supplies for churches are sent in.
Such was the boat with carried the building supplies for the Cathedral, but with this difference-the materials for the Cathedral were all carried ashore and deposited on the site, by helicopter. I wonder how many other churches in the world  "arrived by air" in this way?

Consecrated on April 9th, 1972 during  the first official Synod of the Diocese, the Service was broadcast "live" from the Cathedral to the people on Baffin Island and   the call to service was rung out on the electric chimes; the gift of interested friends in the South. Long may this unique building be a central place of worship in The Arctic and a truly spiritual home to many.
The unique St.Jude's Cathedral was torched by an arsonist in November 5th 2005. Plans are underway to raise the money to rebuild the Cathedral.

by Bishop D.B. Marsh

In this issue of The ARCTIC NEWS, we are featuring the new St. Jude's igloo-shaped Cathedral at Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit).
Have you wondered about the Cathedral? Why it is like an igloo, is the shape just a stunt, or is there some real significance behind it?

Eskimo culture as in the old days of the igloo and dog team is finished, yet the Eskimos are all conscious that they want to preserve much of that culture and their language, even though the living conditions and way of life have changed.
The Cathedral shaped and looking like an igloo is a reminder of what was once found all over The Arctic, and by its very unique shape is a reminder to all the people, Eskimo and white alike, of the uniqueness of the Eskimo people and their past life. This Memorial of the past, links up the present with the great part which the Church has played in The Arctic.
The many gifts to the Cathedral given by the Eskimo people are, first of all, reminders of the early background of the Eskimo people and their relationship one to the other; secondly the part the Church plays in their lives; and last, but most important, emphasizes their relationship to God and His people.

The Cathedral is really the people's Church. It belongs to the whole Diocese and the people all over the Diocese have contributed and I hope will continue to do so in the years to come. Because the Church is the people, the Cathedral is a sign of their oneness and serves as a reminder that in past, present and future the Eskimo people have much to contribute.

May I share with you the feeling I have when I see the Cathedral?

It seems low when viewed from the outside, and the spire, which has no Cross, reminds me of one of the beacons which are found in Eskimo country. Beacons which have a message for travellers who understand what they mean.

Entering through the outer doors, the gift of the Hudson's Bay Company and symbolic of the opening of the North by this great trading company and the Church; one views the interior. The cherry red carpet contrasts beautifully with the lovely purple background of the curtains made by the Eskimo women. The narwhal Cross which hangs over the Bishop Fleming Memorial Holy Table is unique even in a Northern background, but one's eyes are drawn up to the converging laminated beams which have a symmetry and gracefulness all their own. They meet beneath a lantern through which the light softly settles down over the whole interior, very much like the soft light inside a real igloo.


The Eskimo Seamstresses explain their work on the Cathedral hangings.

The Igloolik Panel: Before we start to make the curtain, we women discuss where to start making, so we pick this story and do the pictures from this story: We were rushed so sent it out without a letter or the story of it.
1. Cross on top as you can see it on every Church to remind you that Jesus died on the Cross. He is the Saviour.
2. Rainbow to remember God's Covenant to Noah. Different animals-we didn't do all the pictures of animals; others show different things, that God has made everything.
3. People from different places, different
dress shown. God placed His servants in different places; all belong to one God.
4. Dog team arrived in settlement to bring good news of belief, first time shake hands; natives never shake hands until then, when they have small piece of meat, which means
that time he began to believe in God and started to shake hands to introduce himself.  Started to visit camps and shake hands and bring good news.
5. People and tent, that is how together the people take their bite in the tent, remembering where you began. Meat could be anything from heart of caribou or ptarmigan-small piece of meat. Stories and pictures all memories of natives beginning to believe.

Coppermine (Kugluktuk) Panel: The reason why we chose the picture we put on the curtain - The bird on top is to remind us of the Holy Spirit and The Cross means Jesus Christ died on the Cross for us, and the Crown means He is King of all. So we must believe on Him and go to Church.

Puvirnituq Panel:
1. The rainbow to show the Love of God.
2. Flowers-to try and grow in Thy Faith (like a flower).
3. Igloo-to show Inuit the best they can.
4. Dog team - to show the Inuit used to go on long trips by dog team to understand about the faith.
5. Tents-in summertime the Inuit used to have a tent as a house of prayer.
6. Cross-shows that by dog team the Inuit used to go on the long trips to remind them that Jesus died on the Cross for them.
7. Animals-the Inuit used to hunt for a living; some of the days were very hard days.
8. Clothes-to show the Inuit when going on the long trips to hear more about the faith. They had to stop on the way to try their clothes, they didn't know much, but they did their best.



The following is an overview of parish life in Iqaluit prior to the fire in November 2005.

A healthy parish has a strong sense of itself as a community of faith, called by God, united in Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. The parish community is very much a shared ministry assisted by the clergy, with strong lay members in leadership roles in the groups listed below.

The parish is a strong community inside the larger community of Iqaluit/Apex, and is very used to and open in welcoming newcomers and visitors to the city and churches. The Queen has visited here on several occasions. Visitors are made to feel welcome during the services by the leaders and by parishioners taking the lead by smiling, shaking hands, etc. Coffee hour after the English language service is an important tool in community building.

The parish hall is used by many community organizations and groups during the week, and is well known in the community as a gathering/meeting place with excellent facilities. The Blessings bookstore, recently opened in the parish hall, supplies the community and the Baffin region with Bibles, Christian books and gifts. The Alcoholics Anonymous community group uses the parish boardroom two evenings per week.

Parish Groups include:
            Lay Leaders’ group: meet twice per month for Bible study, worship and preparation for the many important roles the lay leaders play in the church and in the wider community, such as visiting the sick, counseling prisoners, youth, and the bereaved. A Biblically based Lay Leaders’ School is scheduled for October 2004 for updating and expanding their knowledge and skills for ministry.
            Women’s group: meet weekly on Monday evenings at the parish hall for prayers, sewing, and fellowship. They are also active in meal preparation for special groups.
            Men’s group: meets at the same time, starting in October.
            Soup Kitchen: Though it now has a Board, was founded by St. Jude’s in 2001. It currently feeds 50 people per day, 7 days a week.
            Northern Lights: This is a lay-led youth group that is held regularly in the evenings weekly from October to spring time in the parish hall. All youth are welcome. Contemporary Christian music is a large component of this group. A youth mission is scheduled for November 2004.
            Choirs: There is an English language choir and organist who meet regularly for practice, and also a larger Inuktitut language choir, who also meet for practice with their organist.
            Sunday School teachers: use the same material, based upon the BAS lectionary, the English being translated into Inuktitut. The Sunday schools run concurrently with the morning services in Iqaluit and Apex. Another benefit of the Sunday school is that parents can concentrate on the worship service, knowing that their children are also receiving Christian education at their appropriate level.
        Special Events: Special events, such as welcoming feasts for dignitaries are held when the occasion permits. Recently, one was held outside by the river near the satellite community of Apex, where a short service was held and then all ages enjoyed country food of caribou, musk ox, maqtaq, char, bannock and tea to welcome the Executive Committee of the Diocese of the Arctic who were meeting here in Iqaluit.

Help Rekindle a Northern Light
Fundraiser for St. Jude’s Cathedral
from a letter by Garth Hampton

Today is the feast of St. Jude. The name of St. Jude rings a bell for me this year. It reminds me that St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit no concert poster.jpglonger exists. Some of you may recall the devastating fire of November 5, 2005, which removed this unique and important structure from the capital of Nunavut. A young man broke into the Cathedral intent on robbery and then set it on fire. This igloo shaped structure, dedicated by our Queen no longer exists.

Aside from the native artifacts which made this place so special and a place of worship for our native people, this tragedy removed a building that stretched to meet the needs of countless others. Indeed, it was in the process of expanding to accommodate a rapidly expanding Arctic community when the fire occurred. The current population is expected to double over the next 10 to 20 years. This is now a dream that will remain just that while authorities consider the rebuilding of the Cathedral.

Outreach is a very important part of the ministry in the north. Its communities are faced with significant challenges, including alcohol and drug abuse, high teen pregnancy and school dropout rates, physical and sexual abuse, suicide and unemployment. St. Jude’s was the home base for much of this outreach in Iqaluit.

I have been involved in a great many fund raising challenges over the years but this one is dear to my heart, part of which remained in the north when I left my RCMP postings years ago. My plan is to present an evening of music by the very fine National Capital Concert Band, who are preparing this freewill offering concert specifically for St. Jude’s. I’ll be there to sing and I hope you will be there as well. Together, we can make a start on getting this necessary facility rebuilt.

Hopefully, the concert will raise public awareness locally for our friends in the north, and also to raise some needed money to get the ball rolling. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, Dec. 13th at 8 p.m. and plan to be with us at Christ Church Cathedral. This is the time of year when demands are put on us to help the less fortunate. I invite you to consider St. Jude’s in your festive givings. All monies received, without exception, will go to St. Jude’s.

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A very special thank you to Garth Hampson, the National Capital Concert Band and Christ Church Cathedral for this amazing event.

A NEW CATHEDRAL for The Diocese of the Arctic

At the Fall 2002 Executive Committee meeting Bishop Andrew appointed Capt. Ron McLean and Bishop Paul Idlout to plans 1.jpgthe Cathedral Building Committee. Bishop Paul is chairperson of this committee.  Other members appointed to the committee included Joshua Kango (vestry member) and Ed Picco (MLA & congregation member).

Capt. McLean contacted 3 architectural firms, two of these responded. The committee selected FSC (Ferguson, Simek & Clark) because they were most qualified and laid out the method of costing. In 2003, FSC drew up several proposed diagrams for the expansion plans 2.jpgto the cathedral.  The committee chose three drawings to be considered by the vestry, parish and Executive. The building committee, vestry and Executive all selected the “Snowdrift” concept.

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Snowdrift Design

Fundraising for the Cathedral expansion was kicked off at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa during aboriginal days weekend (2004) $14,000 raised at this event.

In September 2005 the Executive committee selected Mr. Doug Little as fundraising campaign director for the expansion old cathedral.jpgproject.

On November 5, 2005, the Cathedral was lost due to arson. Charges were laid on December 21, 2005 and on October 5, 2006 in Iqaluit, the accused plead guilty to a charge of break and enter and to one count of arson (St. Jude’s Cathedral). He was sentenced to 25 months in a federal penitentiary. He also received a 10-year firearm prohibition.

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Altar & Cross

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Narwhal tusk that was on the Cross

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                                                Bishop's Chair (before & after)                 Baptismal Font
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Front Left (Pulpit & Altar Rail)                                        Skylight & Altar                Front Right (Bishop's Chair & Altar Rail)

On December 23, 2005, the Diocese of the Arctic was advised that the cathedral structure was not safe as the beams Daniel Pauloosie Sammy.jpghad lost their integrity. This now meant a total rebuild rather than expansion to the existing building.

On February 2, there was a teleconference meeting with FSC representatives to discuss possible changes to design and costs to rebuild the cathedral to its original state plus upgrades and additional seating capacity. 

On April 16, 2006, (Easter Sunday) Suffragan Bishop Larry Robertson, on behalf of Diocesan Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk conducted a service of deconsecration at St. Jude’s. Early in June the cathedral building was demolished.

Rev. Daniel Aupalu with lay leaders Pauloosie Kilabuk & Sammy Peter

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Bishop Larry Robertson with clergy and lay leaders of the Cathedral Parish in Iqaluit - Easter Sunday 2006



At the fall meeting the Executive selected new plans for the rebuilding of St. Jude’s.  The Bishop’s cathedral advisory committee will be meeting in Iqaluit in February 2007 to continue with plans for the rebuilding of St. Jude’s.  

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