The print “Lining up for Jesus” is a reproduction of a painting I did while in Iqaluit, Nunavut (circa 1982). I was an art teacher there from 1974 to 1984 before I moved to Whitehorse, Yukon.
The Anglican church-St. Jude’s Cathedral-had two services, one in English and the other in Inuktitut. The English service was first and the Inuktitut service followed. This was not done to prioritize one over the other, but because the arrangement seemed to result in the best turnout.
The Inuit are very devout and many would show up early for the service. Even when the weather was harsh, they could be seen lined up, waiting for the Inuktitut service to begin. I always felt that this was a marker of their devotion.
I was inspired to paint this scene. The original painting was called “Waiting for the Kabluna”-kabluna is the Inuktitut word for white man. The painting is part of the collection belonging to the Twerdin family, who still reside in Iqaluit.
In 2005, when the cathedral was extensively damaged by arson, I and others felt that the image would be a good fundraising tool for the church. The original painting was sent to me and I reproduced it in my studio workshop here in Whitehorse. One hundred were produced in a limited edition along with several artist proofs. The edition was donated to the church, and I have never sold any myself.
When the production work was complete, I decided to name the print differently from the painting. Since it was a fundraising effort with the intention of motivating people to support the cathedral project, I settled on “Lining up for Jesus,” a title that I felt not only suited the scene but also the intention of the print.
For information about how to donate to the St. Jude’s Cathedral fund, contact the Diocese of the Arctic, Box 190, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N2. Phone 867-873-5432. Emai: [email protected]
BILL BARNIE is an artist who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.