Pelagie Povaliraq became the first Inuit Grey Nun in history. Born in Arviat in March 9, 1931, she moved to Chesterfield Inlet at age 15. Chesterfield Inlet is one of the oldest communities in the north and it was here Pelagie joined the Roman Catholic organization called, The Sisters of Charity of Montreal.” She enjoyed her duties as a Nun helping care for the sick and disabled people. Agnes Turner who attended the Residential School in the community fondly remembered her presence. “Sister Pelagie always had a big, beautiful smile for everyone. She especially loved children.”

In 1969 after 20 years of service Pelagie moved back to Arviat. Her future mother-in-law arranged a marriage between Pelagie and Mark Katsuak and in 1972 the couple were wed. They had one child, Mary Jane, and adopted several other children. Pelagie worked sewing commercial clothing in Arviat.

I first met Pelagie in Arviat while watching the Canada Day festivities in 2004. I attempted to capture her dignity and poise with my camera and bring it to evidence months later in my drawing. Much loved and admired, Sister Pelagie passed away July 12, 2010.

Back to Portrait Gallery

Pelagie Povaliraq Katsuak
Inuit, Arviat
Image size: 11 x 13 inches
Edition size: 375