Anglican mission in Holman

The Anglican mission in Holman. Photo: Darlene Coward Wight, 2000.

Interior of the Roman Catholic mission in Holman

The interior of the Roman Catholic mission in Holman which is now a museum. Photo: Darlene Coward Wight, 2000.


The traditional Inuit belief system centered on the power and abilities of the shaman or angatkut. In this system, everything had a soul or spirit. Shamans acted as intermediaries between human and spirit worlds, sometimes transforming themselves into the shape of their spirit helpers in their shamanic performances to facilitate this connection. Shamans could also be healers. A close relationship to animal spirits is apparent in many aspects of Inuit life and culture. People depended greatly on animals for food, shelter, and clothing; thus, maintaining good relations with the world of animal spirits was of utmost importance.



In the early 20th century, the first Christian missionaries entered the region around Prince Albert Sound in search of converts. The Anglican missionaries were quite successful, although they did not build a permanent structure in the area until 1962. By the time Catholic missionaries arrived, building a permanent structure at King’s Bay near Ulukhaktok bluff in 1939, the Anglican mission was already established in the area. Father Tardy, the Catholic priest in Holman from 1949 to the 1980s, was very influential in the Co-op movement of the early 1960s.

In many ways Holman remains a traditional community in which family and social connections are of great importance. Shamanic rituals are no longer a major component in Holman spiritual life, although traditional beliefs still run deep. Of the two Christian missions established, only the Anglican church is still active.


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