Father Jon Hansen, priest at Inuvik's igloo church, named N.W.T.'s newest bishop

The Northwest Territories' newest bishop arrived in the North with a kayak, and was searching to buy a snowmobile in his first week in Inuvik.

Hansen has been in Inuvik since 2015, says his love of the territory factor in being named bishop

Father Jon Hansen is the new bishop for the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The Northwest Territories' newest bishop arrived in the North with a kayak, and was searching to buy a snowmobile in his first week in Inuvik.

The anecdote accurately describes Inuvik's Father John Hansen, the newly appointed bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, according to Sister Fay Trombley, of Tuktoyaktuk.

Born in Edmonton and raised in Grade Prairie, Alta., Hansen has been the priest at Inuvik's Our Lady of Victory parish — the iconic "igloo church" — since 2015. He was brought north from Saskatchewan by former Bishop Murray Chatlain, who is now the Archbishop of Keewatin - Las Pas.

Hansen is the priest at Inuvik's Our Lady of Victory Church, often called the 'igloo church.' (submitted by Kristian Binder)

Hansen, the first bishop appointed in the Northwest Territories by Pope Francis, said that he believes his love of the territory is one of the reasons he was selected.

"I've been quite vocal about my love for the diocese, the people of the North, and the land," he said. "I think they saw in me someone who thrived here and was happy to be here, and that's the most important part working amongst the people up here."

Hansen is the fourth bishop for the Diocese in 12 years, a turnover rate that Trombley partially attributed to priests moving on from the region to larger dioceses.

"I don't think we're too hard on them, but they seem to be moved onto other places," she said. "I  guess you could say the North acts as a training ground for bishops these days."

Hansen replaces Bishop Mark Hagemoen in the role. Hagemeon was named the new bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in September.

With files from Josh Campbell