The Salvation Army is alive in Yellowknife. Located 1,500 kilometres north of Edmonton, Yellowknife is the coldest city in Canada. As capital of the Northwest Territories, it is the place where northern and southern cultures meet. It is home to indigenous people of many nations—Tlicho, Akaitcho, Dehtcho, Sahtu, Gwitchin, Inuit, Inuvialuit—as well as Canadians from the south and immigrants from around the world.
Unfortunately, cruel and unjust treatment by our white western culture has left our indigenous brothers and sisters hurt and angry at authority, institutions, church and God. People battle depression, substance abuse, suicide and poverty. Many find it hard to make ends meet due to the high cost of living brought about by a booming northern economy.
My husband, Jim, and I serve in this community drawn from these many nations and cultures. Alongside our full-time ministry Jim is a pilot for Buffalo Airways. Jim has been a commercial pilot for thirty years and continues to use this skill throughout the arctic. Four to six days a month he delivers food mail to surrounding areas. Financial support is given directly to the work of The Salvation Army as a result of Jim’s endeavours.
Our goal and the goal of The Salvation Army is to show that Jesus came for the salvation of the whole world, and that God’s love, at work in our lives, is greater than culture, gender and race. We embrace the Gospel and allow Christ to restore and heal us together.
We also minister to those in our white western culture who have rejected the church because of the legalism and “cultural Christianity” they experienced growing up. They often volunteer to help in our social work, demonstrating “love in action”.
In the harshness of the winter climate, we have -35 C weather and only four hours of daylight. People struggle with the long dark nights. Here we are reminded that Jesus is the “light in darkness.” Many in our congregation are avid hunters and fishermen. When the ice melts and the flowers bloom we cherish every moment of light and warmth.
I have always felt called to serve in the North, even before I was a Christian or had ever been to Yellowknife. Jim and I have a love for this place and its people and are confident that we are where God wants us to be.
We believe the unique gifts of faith and patience and the heritage of the Inuit peoples are needed by the world.