Our Lady of the Assumption
Foundation of the Roman Catholic Mission
The mission of Iqaluit from the beginnings was very different from all others in the Churchill - Hudson Bay Diocese. The community was growing rapidly and so the number of non-Inuit living there and working for the government, schools, airport, stores etc. At the same time the challenges of the pastoral service were grave: the problem of alcoholism, drug addiction, and related to these suicides, murders and accidents.
Spirit of Ecumenism
In Iqaluit only very few Inuit were Catholic. The community had three or four denominational churches (and as many languages spoken by their members). The ecumenical service held in August 1970 expressed nevertheless the fundamental truth: there is but one God and despite the differences we can find the way to live as brothers and sisters. Members of three churches joined the service: Anglicans, Pentecostal and Catholics. At that time bishop of the diocese, Rev. Omer Robidoux OMI, addressed the congregation at the beginning of the prayer. Celestin Erkidjuk has spoken in Inuktituk, and Fr. Courtemanche OMI concluded with the prayer in English. So as we have said - three churches, three languages but one Lord.
Facing Great World...
It is worthy of notice that somehow special position of Iqaluit introduced new element into missionary life of whoever had served this community - meetings with visiting dignitaries. Father Roland Courtemanche OMI had a honor to meet there the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the Minister of Northern Affairs Jean Chretien. And in July 1970, sitting beside the Prince Charles at the banquet honoring the Royal Family - Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Princess Anne, visiting Iqaluit, Fr. Courtemanche was invited to say grace.
Oblates That Served the Parish:
- Fr. Robert Paradis, 1960-1963
- Fr. Georges Lorson, 1961-1962
- Fr. Roberge, 1962-1963
- Fr. Jean Dufour, 1962-68, 1991-95
- Fr. Roland Courtemanche, 1968-1972,
- Fr. Bernard Fransen, 1972
- Fr. Joseph Meeus, 1972-1975
- Fr. Ernest Trinel, 1980
- Fr. Joseph Choque, 1974-1979
- Fr. Patrick Lorand, 1982-1986
- Fr. Frank Kuczera, 2001-2002
- Fr. Greg Oszust, 2003-present
Also Served the Mission in Iqaluit:
- Fr. Andrew Macbeth, from the Archdiocese of Toronto, 1988-1991
- Fr. Robert Sprott OFM, 1996-1997
- Fr. Frederick A. Homann SJ, 1997-2000
About the Town:
Iqaluit means in Inuktituk “fish” (plural). This name referred at first to the small village that rose on the beaches of Koojesse Inlet in 1940s when many Inuit moved to this area to work at the construction of the American airbase. On the official government maps the whole locality appeared then as Frobisher Bay.
Today Iqaluit is the capital and at the same time the largest community of Nunavut Territory.
The former name of the town, Frobisher Bay, recalls Martin Frobisher who since 1500s made three voyages to that area looking for the Northwest Passage.
For the Inuit in other communities of Nunavut Iqaluit seems to be the town “almost like in the South”. The cultural influence of western civilization is maybe greater there than in any other place in the Arctic.