Pastor’s Letter for March

Dear Confreres, Associates, Family and Friends

It is good to be writing to you again, I hope the last month has been a blessing for you. I ended my last letter with news of Dr. Megan Mckenna who was In the Delta to offer a few parish missions and how we were waiting on the weather and road conditions to bring her to Tuktoyaktuk for a few days. The weather finally did improve and the road was plowed and in good enough condition for Sr. Fay to come and pick up Megan for the ride north up the ice-road. Megan’s three days in Tuk were deeply appreciated by the people and the message well received, particularly the evening on reconciliation and forgiveness. I was able to drive up to bring Megan back to Inuvik again for her flight home. The weather had turned bitterly cold and the truck heater could barely keep the windshield free of ice, but the beautiful sunshine made for a spectacular view, the memory of which should bring Megan back to us again one day soon.

Megan McKenna at Our Lady of Grace Church, Tuktoyaktuk

I was unable to attend the Tuk mission due to being needed to preside at a funeral in Tsiigehtchic. It was the first of two funerals in February for that small community so please keep the people in your prayers as they cope with the loss of two wonderful elders.

Noel Andre was born in 1929 somewhere in the bush of the Beaufort Delta. Noel lived a traditional life, hunting, trapping and fishing. He was a translator for the Berger Inquiry in the 1970s, the process which investigated the social, environmental, and economic impact of a proposed gas pipeline that was being planned to run through the Yukon and the Mackenzie River Valley of the Northwest Territories. Noel was a great assistance to researchers over the years always ready to answer questions relating to Gwich’in language and culture. He and his wife Alice were known around the Delta for the quality and taste of their dry-fish. He was also a wonder fiddle player, and recorded a CD called “Lonesome Indian”. Unfortunately, Noel’s hearing deteriorated in his later years and it was said that on radio-bingo nights you could hear the bingo numbers being called from Noel’s house across the whole community.

Raven holds vigil in Holy Name of Mary cemetery

Bella Modeste was born in 1933. She spent her younger years on the land and then settled in Arctic Red River, which came to be known as Tsiigehtchic. Bella was known as a happy person and loved to welcome visitors. She was always concerned with looking after the needs of her neighbors. I was lucky to get to know Bella a little bit as we got to see each other at the Inuvik Long Term Care centre where she moved after her husband passed away a year ago. Noel and Bella will be missed but not forgotten.

I was very happy to return to Paulatuk for a long weekend, the first time back since the beginning of December. It was good to re-connect with so many people that I am getting to know in that friendly community. Conditions were cold but the skies were clear and the wind was calm, so it was almost spring-like with the sun reflecting of the snow-covered ocean and hills. I took advantage of the pleasant weather and spent my days walking around the community and dropping in on people for tea and conversation. I am looking forward to returning to celebrate Easter and the spring carnival in April.

Paulatuk Sunshine

Our parish was in the news this month as musician/singer/songwriter and parishioner Abe Drennan sent out a press release highlighting the recording of his new album, “The Igloo Sessions”, which is presently underway using the Igloo Church as his studio. Abe’s songs are very reflective and celebrate the best in our humanity. It was fitting to bring together the sacred space of the church with the sacred language of his music. To read the CBC interview with Abe and to listen to one of the new tracks off his coming album follow the link.

Abe Drennan recording the “Igloo Sessions” (photo courtesy of Tony Devlin)

Finally, Our Lady of Victory parish was very pleased to welcome Fr. Mick Fleming. Fr. Mick will be with us in the delta for the Lenten season and the Easter celebrations. Originally from Newfoundland, Mick has spent the last 5 years in Saskatoon working with the First Nations people as pastor of Guadalupe Parish

Fr. Mick immerses himself in the Arctic weather

As we begin our Lenten journey may the peace of this tranquil season fill your hearts as we await the great celebration of the Pascal mystery of Easter.

Until next time, Peace

Fr. Jon


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