A resident of Hay River is about to become the first person of Slavey heritage to be ordained an Anglican priest.Georgina Bassett will officially become a priest on Sept. 16 in a ceremony at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church.
When Bassett became a deacon in the church in 2009, she wasn’t entirely sure of the path she was on.
“I wasn’t sure where God was leading me,” said the member of K’atlodeeche First Nation. “Or even if God wanted me to become a minister.”
After some consideration, she realized it was the right time in her life to become a priest. She can actually pinpoint the moment when she was convinced.
“Last year, I was at an executive meeting in Yellowknife, and, during our morning service, I distinctly heard God saying it was time for me to become a minister,” she said. “I was overwhelmed. You always doubt yourself when something like this comes along, and I asked him whether I was qualified enough to do it, and he said he had chosen me. I will follow his guidance.”
Bassett, who owns and operates a fuel delivery company with her husband, Steve, had been taking correspondence courses to study for the priesthood and says she will keep taking more in the future.
Rev. Vivian Smith, another minister at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, has known Bassett for eight years and considers her a very close friend.
“Georgina and I started this journey together eight years ago,” Smith said. “We started our lay ministry courses at the same time along with four other lay ministers. Georgina followed through and did her courses to become a deacon, which was the highlight of my ministry. We think alike and support each other so much. She’s a wonderful person. She has an amazing call for God’s work.”
Bassett was also named Hay River’s Citizen of the Year for 2011. She was presented with the Alfred Mansell Award and commended for her community involvement, including her volunteer work as co-ordinator of the Hay River Thrift Shop.
The ordination this Sunday, conducted by Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk of the Diocese of the Arctic, will be his last one before he retires.
Bassett doesn’t know whether she will become a full-time minister following Smith’s retirement, and added the decision would be left up to the vestry and Atagotaaluk’s successor as bishop.
“I just have to be faithful and listen to where He wants to lead me,” Bassett said.
One of her dreams is to eventually build an Anglican church on the Hay River Reserve.
“There used to be one, but it was destroyed in a flood a long time ago and never rebuilt because financially it just wasn’t possible,” she said. “I am hoping and praying that one day we can build one again, one with a nice bell.”
A potluck will follow the ordination service on Sunday and Bassett said everyone is welcome to attend.
– Myles Dolphin