SEPTEMBER 22, 2023
On May 20, 2023, Brother Mark Sanderson, a member of the Governing Body, delivered the dedication talk for a new Kingdom Hall in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. A total of 44 people attended the dedication program in person, and 388 tied in via videoconference. Nunavut is considered among the most sparsely populated places on earth, with fewer than 40,000 residents and a landmass of about 1,837,000 square kilometers (709,270 sq mi). As previously reported on jw.org, our brothers overcame many unique challenges to build this Kingdom Hall. The intrepid Witnesses that brought the good news to this isolated territory were met by harsh conditions and rugged terrain. Their stalwart example was highlighted during the dedication program.
In 1976, Sister Margaret Gallie moved 2,052 kilometers (1,275 mi) from Montreal, Quebec, to a community now known as Iqaluit, Nunavut. She was the first Witness to preach in that vast and barren land. Later that same year, Brother Hans Pintar, who was serving as a circuit overseer, and his wife, Minerva, made a special week-long visit to encourage Sister Gallie and to share in the ministry.
Then, in 1983, a small group of zealous Witnesses traveled to Iqaluit. Their combined efforts in the preaching work resulted in a local family becoming the first residents of the area to get baptized. Over the next 20 years, courageous Kingdom proclaimers made numerous trips to this isolated region to share the good news with others. In 2008, a group was officially formed in Iqaluit. By 2010, this small group had grown into a congregation, holding their meetings in a school gymnasium. The brothers and sisters were thrilled when, in October 2022, they moved into their newly built Kingdom Hall.
In addition to Iqaluit, special pioneers along with others preached in various isolated areas throughout Nunavut. Brother Joel Therrien and his wife, Cheryl, were among them. They moved to Baker Lake, which is located 1,329 kilometers (826 mi) west of Iqaluit. Brother Therrien reflects: “Despite the cold weather, the isolation, and the expenses involved, it was worth every sacrifice necessary. Jehovah’s blessing was evident in the heartwarming response of the people living in Baker Lake. We appreciated having the opportunity to share the Bible’s message with the people living there.”
Joseph Utatnaq is a resident of Baker Lake who responded positively to the Kingdom good news. He accepted a Bible study with Brother Therrien and was baptized in 2021. Brother Utatnaq is currently the only publisher living in Baker Lake. When he learned that the Kingdom Hall dedication program in Iqaluit was going to take place in May 2023, he put forth considerable effort to be in attendance. It was the first time since his baptism that he was able to meet in person with his brothers and sisters in a Kingdom Hall. He comments: “I was so impressed when I saw the finished Kingdom Hall. Many who helped build the hall were not local residents and were unaccustomed to the climate and conditions here. It was obvious that their love for Jehovah and their neighbor moved them.”
There are currently a total of 178 brothers and sisters serving in four congregations in the northern territories, which include one congregation in Nunavut, two in the Northwest Territories, and one in Yukon. These territories make up nearly 40 percent of Canada’s landmass. While the extreme cold and rugged environment in Canada’s far north make it a challenge to contact those living in these isolated areas, we admire the efforts of our brothers and sisters who make themselves available to preach the good news in these remote areas.—Acts 1:8.
Alaska is the largest and northernmost state in the United States, covering an area of about 1,723,000 square kilometers (665,254 sq mi), which is more than twice the size of the state of Texas. About 730,000 people live in Alaska. The Kingdom good news first reached Alaska as early as 1897, and today there are about 2,400 Kingdom publishers serving in 30 congregations and 8 groups. In Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, there are ten congregations and five groups in various languages, including Hmong (White), Korean, Russian, Samoan, and Central Alaskan Yupik, which is an indigenous language. Other cities, such as Fairbanks, Juneau, and Wasilla, also have congregations and groups in multiple languages. Additionally, the good news is being shared with those in isolated locations, such as the small towns of Bethel, Wrangell, and Haines.
In August 2014, two special pioneers, Brothers Sebabi Leballo and Dustin Watson, were invited to move to Haines, which is located on the Alaskan panhandle, about 825 kilometers (513 mi) southeast of Anchorage. Within a year, they were conducting 40 Bible studies with interested ones from the local area. Several of these students progressed to baptism. By 2018, a small congregation had been established in Haines and the meetings were being conducted at the local library. In 2021, a building was purchased and converted into a Kingdom Hall. Later, in September 2022, Brother Kenneth Cook, Jr., a member of the Governing Body, delivered the dedication talk to an audience of 48 people, with another 86 tied in via videoconference. Today, this congregation of 21 publishers shares the good news in Haines and other remote areas.
After attending the Kingdom Hall dedication in Haines in 2022, Brother Leballo reflected: “When I arrived eight years ago, it seemed hard to believe a congregation and a Kingdom Hall would be here today. It is so encouraging to see that even in remote locations, Jehovah makes it possible for ‘all sorts of people’ to learn about him.”—1 Timothy 2:4.