In the summer of 2002 I made my first trip to the small community of Bathurst Inlet. The community in partnership with long-time northern family the Warners operated an Eco-tourism lodge in the community, appropriately called Bathurst Inlet Lodge.
It was that first summer that I met a man by the name of Jack Sperry. Everyone knew him as Bishop John Sperry though, because that is who he was, but to those of us at Bathurst, it was Jack. At one time he traveled the arctic, mostly by dog sled, visiting communities along the way. Honestly, I don’t really know what he did back then, other than it was Anglican missions related and I regret that.
I was so fortunate when I was younger to be exposed to the history of the Arctic and its people, but at that age I didn’t comprehend a lot of it. There is so much I think back on that I wish I could have done to hear those stories, the history and about the people. I admire them nowadays, and I’m saddened to hear of the loss of Bishop Sperry.
For a few summers after I remember seeing Bishop Sperry talking with the guests of the Lodge. Telling them stories of the past and how life use to be. And although he wasn’t a native to the north, the detail he processed when it came to the culture and the language was captivating.
I hold people like Bishop Sperry very high, not because of what they may have done all those years ago, but because they continued to share that knowledge. They were so passionate about it that they continued to tell the stories and pass on the history.
On February 7, 2012 Bishop John Sperry received a Diamond Jubilee medal to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 year reign of the United Kingdom. On February 12, 2012, Bishop John Sperry passed away in Hay River, surrounded by family.
To quote Page Burt, another friend for Bathurst Inlet, “he leaves a great void in the hearts of people right across the North, and far beyond.”
Read more here. Photo Credit: JANE GEORGE