Debt crisis at Arctic cathedral

The new St. Jude’s Cathedral was consecrated in 2012. Photo: Courtesy of the Diocese of the Arctic
The new St. Jude’s Cathedral was consecrated in 2012. Photo: Courtesy of the Diocese of the Arctic
Published October 8, 2013

The newly constructed St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut, may close its doors unless funds are raised to pay the balance of its construction debt, according to the diocese of the Arctic.

The diocese has paid more than $7.5 million toward the cost of constructing the cathedral, but still owes the construction giant, Dowland Contracting Ltd., about $3 million.

The diocese had been paying this debt as funds were raised, based on an “informal arrangement worked out directly with the [company],” said its diocesan bishop, David Parsons. However, in May, Dowland Contracting Ltd. was put into receivership; it filed for bankruptcy protection in July.

The receiver, Alvaraz and Marsal Canada, Inc., is now asking the diocese for immediate payment of the $3 million debt, plus $30,000 per month in interest.

“This is a request that the diocese cannot meet without closure of the Cathedral and an end to the church’s ministry of compassion, hope and presence in the Arctic,” said Parsons in a press statement. “…We have always remained committed to paying the balance owing on the construction costs to date. But these new demands now threaten our very existence.”

Parsons described the situation as “a crisis for the diocese and for the people of the Arctic, who risk losing their cathedral for a second time in a decade, and with it, the church’s social ministry through the Arctic.”

The diocese “needs the help of people to get through this crisis,” and to help save the cathedral, said Parsons.

In 2005, the igloo-shaped cathedral was extensively damaged by arson and rendered unusable, “robbing the community and the Arctic of a cultural icon and spiritual home of the people of the north,” said Parsons.

Parsons underscored the importance of the cathedral’s social ministry, which includes outreach to the homeless, prison and hospital chaplaincy, support for transients and youth ministry. “The church houses the food bank, on which 100 rely to feed their families,” he added. ‘The soup kitchen, also operating through the church, feeds 65 people daily.”

The diocese “did not create this situation and nor did the people we serve,” said Parsons. “We are an unfortunate third party caught in the middle of the builder’s receivership proceedings…And it is the people of the Arctic who rely on our social ministry who will suffer.”

The Anglican Journal tried to reach the receiver for comment, but has not received any response as of this writing.

“Right now, we’re just continuing with our fundraising. We’re letting people know so that people realize the situation where we’re just wanting to continue to pay as money comes in,” said Parsons in a phone interview with the Anglican Journal.






For information about St. Jude’s Cathedral or how to donate, contact:

The Diocese of the Arctic

P.O. Box 190,
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2N2

Tel: 867- 873-5432. Email:
[email protected]

Or go to its website.













  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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