Leading clergy from the Diocese of the Arctic attend the graduation of students from the Arthur Turner Training School (ATTS). Front row, L-R: Bishop David Parsons, Esau Tatatopik, Annie Keenainak, Martha Kunuk, Manasee Ulayuk, Bishop Darren McCartney. ATTS Director Joseph Royal is standing at left in the second row from the front. Submitted photo

The first graduating class of the renewed Arthur Turner Training School (ATTS) is ready to begin its ministry.

Since the Iqaluit based school—in the Diocese of the Arctic—reopened its doors in 2016, this class of ministers has been highly anticipated by the diocese and their communities. This is because each of the new graduates is Inuit, and is bilingual in Inuktitut and English. Bilingualism in both of these languages is highly needed for the graduates as they will be ministering throughout the north.

“It’s a big deal, [for] a couple reasons,” says ATTS director, the Rev. Joseph Royal. “First of all, we just don’t have enough ministers in the diocese. There are parishes all over the north that want a minister and can’t get one.”

“But also, all the graduates are Inuit. They’re bilingual. So they’re going to go to a community in the north, and unlike someone coming from the south, they don’t have to learn a new culture or language. They have that already.”

“Not only do we have new ministers,” he adds. “We have really good ones who are trained well, but who also know the culture. It’s their culture and language.”

The new graduates are: the Rev. Sarassie Arragutainag, from the community of Sanikiluaq;  the Rev. Annie Keenainak, from Pangnirtung;  the Rev. Martha Kunuk, from Iqaluit;  the Rev. Esau Tatatoapik, from Arctic Bay; and the Rev. Manasee Ulayuk, from Hall Beach.

At ATTS, the students learned through a combination of classroom study and practical parish ministry. All practical parish ministry was conducted in St. Jude Cathedral, or at a small community church. Most of the ministry was conducted in Inuktitut.

In spite of the learning curve, Ulayuk describes his time at the Arthur Turner Training School to be generally positive and rewarding.

“I believe it was my call to come into this college and learn the biblical, to be part of the ministry,” Ulayuk says.

The bulk of the core curriculum was taught by the Rev. Joseph Royal, ATTS Director. However, students also received tutelage from some visiting instructors.

Some of these instructors were National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, retired Arctic bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk, and current Arctic Bishop David Parsons; Prof. Wanda Malcolm of Wycliffe College, who taught a course on self-care and pastoral psychology; Associate Prof. Ian Henderson, who teaches New Testament Studies at McGill University; and the Rev. David Luckman, Ireland team leader for the international mission agency Crosslinks.

“I enjoy so much that I made a good relationship with the people coming from the south and also from the north to teach us,” Ulayuk said. “It was really helpful.”

Supplements to the core curriculum focused on community outreach, ministry to youth and children, pastoral psychology, counselling, and navigating various crises and emotional problems that may occur within communities.

“The demands of the north for ministry are unique,” Royal says. “Communities are isolated, and compared to the south, they’re smaller. […] The northern context was always the focus in our curriculum.”

Classes for the next cohort are expected to begin in January.