Growing up in Nunavik, northern Quebec, Annie Napartuk-Ittoshat always thought she’d become a social worker. Her plans changed during a college Christmas break when she was visiting family and she had a dream.
"I don't remember the dream but when I woke up I had butterflies in my stomach, you know what I’m talking about?” she said.
“When you are happy, excited or nervous and you get butterflies. That is the feeling I got."
She called a friend and they prayed together over the phone. “I was just listening to here, to my insides,” she said.
She knew that Inuit could get training through an Anglican Church program in Pangnirtung, Nunavut. “If I have to go to Pangnirtung to become a minister I will go for it, that is how I ended up pursuing (this plan) to become an Anglican minister."
One day, when she was practising her sermon in an empty church in Pangnirtung, she realized that it was the job for her.
After three years of study plus one year of parish work in Pangnirtung, Annie Napartuk-Ittoshat planned to move back to Kuujjuaraapik but the housing shortage in her community meant she was unable to find a home. So she moved her family to Toronto where she spent two years completing the Master of Divinity program at Wycliffe College.
Napartuk-Ittoshat graduated in May. As soon as her children finish their school year, she will return to Nunavik to work.
Within the Diocese of the Arctic, she is the first Inuk woman to complete the Masters of Divinity program. Annie says she strives to incorporate elements of her culture in her sermons.
In the end, she says being a minister is very much like being a social worker.
"When I became a minister I realized that with our profession we deal with different issues, people come to talk to us in both jobs, they are interlinked.”
Like social work, being a minister can be stressful.
"If I am going to preach Sunday, and I feel that I can't do it, if I feel too small to even try, to try to understand what I am reading, when I am in that situation I feel that God speaks louder."