A Suffolk priest is settling back into life in the UK – after spending a year living in an Inuit community in the arctic.
The Revd Enid Pow, the new priest in charge of the Four Rivers Benefice in Suffolk, spent last year in the Community of Kuujjuaq, the largest Innuit community in the Nunavik region of Quebec, Canada, having lived in Canada for the last ten years.
“I was the mission priest in the Community of Kuujjuaq and my congregation were 99% Inuit,” she said. “They spoke their native language, Inuktitut, so my services were done with a translator. It’s such a different environment, the nights are very long and dark there, so you have to adjust psychologically to it.”
The Revd Enid Pow said sadly the community in Kuujjuaq were still suffering the disastrous effects of actions taken by the Canadian government last century, where families were forcibly moved and resettled.
“They are traditionally a nomadic, hunter-gatherer society but were forced into settlements in the 60s and 70s,” she said. “The Royal Mounted Police had tried to disrupt their way of life by killing all their sled dogs. Inuit children were taken from their families to boarding schools, with many not returning to their home communities for years. It has been catastrophic to their community, as they have lost a generation of parenting skills and families. They have never really recovered from it.”
Despite the historic trauma the community has faced, Enid said they were among the most generous people she has ever met.
“They are simply lovely people,” she said. “They really take you to their hearts, they are caring, protective and extremely generous. It really was a great honour to have been part of their community.”
Enid was welcomed to the Four Rivers Benefice - which oversees churches in Bedfield, Brundish, Cratfield, Laxfield, Monk Soham, Tannington and Wilby – in a special service in February earlier this year.
“I’m new to Suffolk and really love it here – it’s a very pretty part of the world,” she said. “My father was in the RAF so I have lived all over the place – I’ve had quite a nomadic life. The people have been really lovely and supportive here, it’s a very friendly place to live. I think what I will bring from my time living with the Inuit is how they value listening. Most first nations people are very respectful and listen in absolute silence when someone is speaking. I think that’s what I will bring back from my time with them, the importance of carefully listening to people and considering what they have to say.”