Transition to Christianity
The Transition to Christianity is based on two
interviews conducted by students at Nunavut
in 1999. Victor Tungilik and Rachel Uyarasuk, two elders from Iglulik, share
with the students their recollections of this time of change, when Inuit
started following the new religion.
Chapter one and two present
the life stories of the elders. In chapter one, Rachel talks about her
childhood in Kangiq&ugaapik and shares her knowledge about how religion was
practiced during important moments in women's lives. Then, Victor Tungilik
remembers the important changes he had to face when he became a Christian. Both
grew up before the appearance of missionaries in their area and they talk about
their own conversion. They also remember the spiritual life of Inuit when they
started following the new religion. Victor gives an enlightening account of the
changes it brought in angakkuit's lives, as he himself let go of his
shamanistic powers when he decided to become a Christian.
The accounts of the elders
allow us to understand how this transition occurred between old and new
beliefs, and lets us grasp the synthesis that was undertaken by Inuit, even
before they had regular contact with missionaries. Victor and Rachel's accounts
constitute a new perspective on this time of individual and collective
conversion. In the course of the interviews, both elders share with the
students and the readers their deep religious feelings.
Whenever anyone would disclose a wrong-doing, whoever was able to read would read from the Bible and there would be prayers. At the time there was a minister form the Pangniqtuuq area. We started receiving Bibles and hymnals by dogteam. That was when we were converting to Christianity. I don’t remember any angakkuit using their powers after that. They would pray instead when people were sick. I heard one person who went through the siqqitirniq ritual say that he was going to let go of all his healing powers that he used when he was an angakkuq.
The Transition to Christianity, Chapter 4, p. 126.