Travel Costs for St. Adrian Parish, Wollaston Lake

Rev. Joji Chandamala helps young parishioners from St. Adrian in Wollaston Lake light the First Sunday of Advent candle.

Nestled in the remote wilderness of Northeast Saskatchewan lies Wollaston Lake, a tight-knit settlement that faces unique challenges and thrives against the backdrop of a pristine but harsh environment. Accessible only by boat and plane outside the winter months, this community of approximately 1400 people relies on an ice road during winter, where temperatures plummet below -20 degrees Celsius. Despite this geographical isolation, Wollaston Lake Parish is a vibrant and active community, with the Church of St. Adrian serving as a central hub under the guidance of Resident Priest Rev. Joji Chandamala.

The isolation of Wollaston Lake presents a significant challenge to its residents. The opening of an ice road in the winter becomes crucial for vehicular travel, easing the cost of transportation and travel to the community. However, transportation expenses remain high, especially by air, and add an extra layer of difficulty. Currently, a round trip flight from Wollaston to major hubs like Saskatoon, La Ronge, or Prince Albert can cost anywhere between $800 to $1600, putting a strain on the residents and community services.

At the heart of Wollaston Lake Parish is Rev. Joji Chandamala, who has been the Resident Priest at the Church of St. Adrian for nearly a decade. Most Rev. Murray Chatlain, the Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas, acknowledges Wollaston as one of their most active parishes, and recently shared the exciting news of a new Church built and paid for by the community. Rev. Joji has played a vital role in fostering a sense of community and spirituality within the area. As he embarks on his tenth year with Wollaston Lake, the challenges of maintaining regular contact with the broader archdiocese become apparent.

Wollaston Lake is the main population centre for the Hatchet Lake Dene Nation. The territory relies on two main economic pillars – fishing tourism and uranium mining. The pristine Wollaston Lake attracts enthusiasts from across the region, contributing to the local economy. Simultaneously, the uranium mining industry provides employment opportunities for the residents. These economic factors underscore the resilience of the community, navigating challenges while finding sustainable sources of income.

In 2024, the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas has requested support for Wollaston Lake Parish. The church is seeking $7,500 to cover the travel costs necessary for Rev. Joji Chandamala to connect with the broader community and the archdiocese. This financial assistance will not only support the priest in his endeavors but also strengthen the bonds between the larger faith community in the Archdiocese.

Wollaston Lake Parish stands as a testament to the strength and resilience of communities in remote areas. Rev. Joji Chandamala’s dedicated service and the ongoing challenges faced by the residents highlight the importance of supporting such communities. By contributing to Catholic Missions In Canada, individuals and organizations can play a vital role in ensuring community connections in the heart of Northeast Saskatchewan.