Groundbreaking service for “igloo church” draws hundreds

Published June 7, 2007

Retired bishop Paul Idlout (right) turns the sod at the groundbreaking service June 3 for St. Jude’s Cathedral, while Andrew Atagotaaluk (left), diocesan bishop of the Arctic, recites prayers.

A groundbreaking service for St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit took place June 3, Trinity Sunday, to mark the rebuilding of the igloo-shaped church, which was damaged by arson in November 2005. It was later demolished in June 2006.

Hundreds of people – Inuit and non-Inuit – attended the service, where English and Inuktitut hymns were sung and prayers recited, according to media reports.

Paul Okalik, the premier of Nunavut, was invited to turn the sod at the service but had to cancel at the last minute after being called to a meeting in Ottawa. In his place, retired bishop Paul Idlout took the shovel.

“We are starting something bigger than the physical building, and that’s housing the spirit of God,” Andrew Atagotaaluk, diocesan bishop of the Arctic, told the Canadian Press, which noted that the last groundbreaking for St. Jude’s had no less than Queen Elizabeth II as guest.

After the ceremony, parishioners proceeded to the parish hall for another fundraising event for St. Jude’s – a meal of bannock and caribou stew.

The diocese’s fundraising effort has so far raised $1.5 million of the $6 million needed to rebuild the cathedral, one of the most recognizable buildings in the North. Bishop Atagotaaluk said he and the fundraising team in Iqaluit are redoubling their efforts to meet the target.

“The financial part is slow. But we have been making progress since last year. We are now getting more financial responses from various people, churches, organizations, and within the diocese as well,” he said. He said that with mail being slow in the North, responses to appeals made in June 2006 only came last December and early this year. The campaign also received a boost from parishioners of the diocese of Ottawa, who organized a fundraiser last year. (The Anglican Foundation is planning its own fundraising event for St. Jude’s this fall in Toronto.)


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