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Facelift for landmark church
Restoring its roots with fresh paint and new siding

Shawn Giilck
Northern News Services
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sometimes a white-washing can be a good thing.

NNSL photo/graphic

Byron Jean of Nappaq Design and Construction has been working on sprucing up the exterior of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church for the last week. It's part of a renovation largely being handled as charitable work for Inuvik's landmark building.- Shawn Giilck/NNSL photo

Inuvik's landmark building, Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, otherwise known as the Igloo Church, is undergoing a well-deserved facelift this spring. Armed with some government funding and some pro bono help, the church is going back to its roots with some fresh paint and siding that will be installed over the next month.

While it was somewhat difficult to pin down the details, Nappaq Design and Construction, a company owned by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, is providing some free labour to go along with about $10,000 in government grants to carry out the work.

Byron Jean has been one of the workers kept busy scraping and retouching the paint on the church for the last week from a lift truck. The distinctive blue trim is being renewed, while further worker awaits on the white exterior of the building.

"I'm not sure how it's all being worked out for who is donating what," he said. "I think some of the paint may have been donated, but I'm not sure."

Last November a column penned by CBC contributor Doug Matthews calling for the church to be painted had the town in a minor uproar.

In that column, which expressed his concerns for Inuvik's future, Matthews ended it by stating "paint the damned church."

Peter Clarkson, who has been somewhat involved in organizing the cleanup, quipped that maybe "Doug Matthews will write another column now."

The work had actually been slated to be done last summer, but the poor weather following Canada Day led to it being postponed.

Clarkson, who isn't on the church council, said he played only a peripheral part in arranging the work.

"I've just helped put people in touch with each other more than anything," he said.

He said Denny Rodgers, the general manager of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, had been looking for a community project for the new Nappaq company, and the church more than fit the bill.

Joe Lavoie, a member of the church congregation,

has also been involved somewhat in the work.

"I haven't really been involved directly," he said.

He said the government grant came to about $10,000, which, combined with the donations, were enough to get the process rolling.

Lavoie said he expected the work could be done within a month or so, if the weather co-operates. He and Clarkson were excited to see the church being restored to its traditional colour scheme of gleaming white and sky-blue. Neither colour, but particularly the blue, had been retouched in quite a few years, said Clarkson.

"It's our most-photographed building for sure, so it's good to see it going back to what it looked like," he said.

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