As there are no real social activities that we have been introduced to yet, one of the ways we thought we could expand our social network and create ties to the community, was to visit the local church. For a small hamlet, there are actually a few churches here, but the majority of them are “closed” unless it is for service on Sunday.
On our way to the grocery store one day, we actually found where the Catholic church is and decided to stop in to see if anyone was there to let us know if there was mass anytime soon. It was there that we met Sister Annette, a nun who had only arrived in town three days before. She explained that unless there are special occasions (ie. weddings, first communion, confirmations, etc.) the church is unattended and laypeople conduct a small service on Sundays so parishioners can receive communion. Sister Annette is here until just after Labour Day so she can help the children prepare for First Communion in September.
There is a group of sisters that travel across the territory into rural communities such as Baker Lake for such purposes. Priests are a little more scarce, but she did say that one was coming this week for a few days to conduct a wedding and will be staying until after Sunday mass.
We had a lovely chat with her, and promised we would be back soon. She made such a good impression on us that we were talking to our neighbours and we all decided to go to service on Sunday to see how it was conducted. Turns out I wasn’t feeling great this past Sunday, but Jeff and our neighbours went, and I sent along some fresh fruits for Sister Annette as she was talking about how surprised she was at how much everything cost at the store and she didn’t bring much money from the convent with her. I will have to make a note to cook a casserole or bake her a nice loaf for next Sunday…
Jeff and our neighbours mentioned that the service was quite different than ones we are used to Ontario. Because there is no priest, there are certain parts that have to be omitted from the service, but there is still singing and communion and readings. The other big difference is that the service is much longer because everything is done twice: in English and in Inuktitut. I believe they were gone for just over an hour and a half this past Sunday.
This coming Sunday will be a bit different because the priest will be here, but I’m curious to see what the service is like. The church itself had about 20 or so people in it – and the way I look at it, it is 20 new potential friends! We’ll see how this week goes!