Catholic church marks 100 years in Eastern Arctic
Bishop says church will consult with Nunavummiut before deciding whether to hold a celebration
It's been 100 years since Roman Catholic missionaries established themselves permanently on the shore of Hudson Bay at Chesterfield Inlet to work with Inuit.
But Bishop Reynald Rouleau of the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay said he wants to consult with people in Nunavut before any anniversary plans are made.
"We want to try to maybe appraise a little more what's the meaning of the Roman Catholic tradition in an area like Nunavut," he said.
That is because of the child sexual abuse scandal the church has seen recently in the Arctic.
Chesterfield Inlet was also home to Catholic-run Sir Joseph Bernier Federal Day School and its residence,Turquetil Hall, whose former students have spoken of being physically and sexually abused.
The first Catholic mission in Nunavut was founded by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Chesterfield Inlet in 1912. Eventually 15 Catholic churches were established in what is now Nunavut. The church held large gatherings on the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the mission’s founding, but is not sure whether a celebration this year would be appropriate.
However, Eli Kimmaliardjuk, an elder in Chesterfield Inlet, says the church helped many people in times of hardship.
"I have full confidence in the Bishop of Nunavut and I want him to know that people support him," he said.
Kimmiliardjuk said he hopes there will be a celebration in Chesterfield Inlet this year. This will bring some healing in the community, he says.