The last groundbreaking for Iqaluit’s igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral drew Queen Elizabeth II and Sunday’s ceremony to launch its rebuilding was only slightly less illustrious.
On a gravelly dirt patch beside the Nunavut capital’s elementary school, hundreds of people formed a circle inside the perimeter of a bright yellow string where the walls will eventually go up.
Inuit and non-Inuit, usually divided for English and Inuktitut services, combined to sing hymns and read prayers in two languages.
“We are starting something bigger than a physical building, and that’s housing the spirit of God,” said Andrew Atagotaaluk, bishop of the Arctic diocese.
Premier Paul Okalik was invited to turn the sod, but was called away to Ottawa at the last minute. Many in Iqaluit thought it fitting that retired bishop Paul Idlout took the shovel instead. As he did so, the sun broke though the clouds.
It’s been a year and a half since fire destroyed Iqaluit’s only cathedral. On November 6, 2005, parishioners arrived for church, only to find yellow police tape around the door.