Church left ‘unusable’ after fire

Published December 1, 2005

Igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut territory, was extensively damaged by fire on the night of Nov. 5.”There is a lot of heat, smoke and fire damage inside. The structure is still standing. From the outside, you only see some smoke damage at the front door,” said Iqaluit acting fire chief Gregory Jewers in a telephone interview.The fire marshal has confirmed that the fire was arson and a dollar estimate of the damage was not available at press time. Mr. Jewers also said some of the cathedral’s art and artifacts were damaged and Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk called the building “unusable.” Services are being held in the church hall. The parish is welcoming donations of vestments or communion linens to replace those damaged by the fire.”The church is at the heart of the community. We do 99 per cent of the funerals here. The soup kitchen is part of our ministry. The hall is used by community groups. The church has such historic value,” said Rev. Ron McLean, rector of St. Jude’s. St. Jude’s, which held its first service in 1972, is a white half-dome shape, similar to the iconic Inuit snow house, with a spire atop the dome. It  was decorated by Inuit artisans who contributed such unique items as a pulpit shaped like an upturned sled, a baptismal font made out of soapstone in the shape of an Inuit oil lamp and a cross made of narwhal tusks. The cathedral was in the midst of a campaign to raise $7 million for renovation and expansion. As of June, 2005,  it had raised $500,000.


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