Arctic bishop John Sperry dies

Longtime northerner Bishop John R. Sperry died on Feb. 11 in Hay River, N.W.T. He was 87 years old.

Sperry translated the Bible and hymns into Innuianuqtun dialect

Anglican Bishop John R. Sperry died on Saturday in Hay River, N.W.T. He was 87 years old.

Sperry, who was better known as Jack, worked as a bishop with the Anglican Church throughout the North.

He was a minister at Anglican missions in Kugluktuk, N.W.T. — then called Coppermine — and Fort Smith, N.W.T. He also served as the Bishop of the Arctic for the Anglican Church and worked throughout Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Nunavik.

Bishop John Sperry worked throughout the North since the 1960s. He was instrumental in translating the bible and hymns into the Inuinnaqtun dialect. (Diocese of the Arctic)

He learned Inuinnaqtun and worked to translate the Bible and hymns into the Inuktitut dialect.

Bishop Andrew Ataguttaaluk knew Sperry well, having worked and travelled with him in the North since the 1970s. He said Sperry's translation work was instrumental in teaching the Anglican faith to the people of the Western Arctic.

"That was part of his main work to see that the Scriptures and the liturgy become in the language of the people that he served," said Ataguttaaluk.

"He has been more like a spiritual father to many of us in terms of his ministry across the diocese," he added.

Sperry also visited unilingual Inuinnaqtun elders at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and served as the chaplain for the Canadian Forces Northern Region.

Sperry was named to the Order of Canada in 2002. He was scheduled to receive one of the 60,000 Queen's Diamond Jubilee medals later this year.

A funeral service in Yellowknife is being planned.