Little mosque heads for Canadian Arctic
1500-square-foot prefabricated mosque will serve growing Muslim population in Inuvik, Canada’s far north.
OTTAWA – A small mosque being shipped to the Arctic to serve a growing Muslim population in Canada’s far north will travel 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water, a trip organizer said.
The number of Muslims in Inuvik, a town of 4,000 inhabitants in the Northwest Territories, has grown steadily in recent years to about 80 and they no longer fit in an old three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-feet) caravan used until now for prayers.
The congregation could not afford to build a new mosque in the town, where prices for labor and materials are substantially higher than in southern parts of Canada, said project leader Ahmad Alkhalaf.
But they found a supplier of prefabricated buildings in Manitoba that said it could ship a structure to Inuvik for half the price of building a mosque from scratch on site.
A local Muslim charity — the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation of Thompson, Manitoba — also offered to pick up a large part of the costs for the 1500-square-foot facility, Alkhalaf said by telephone from Inuvik.
And so, at the end of August the tiny yellow mosque’s voyage began on the back of truck, winding through the vast prairies and woods of Western Canada toward Hay River on the shores of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories.
There it will be transferred onto a barge that will be floated down the McKenzie River to Inuvik, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.
“We’re expecting it to arrive on September 24,” Alkhalaf said. “It will be placed on a parcel of land bought by the congregation in a residential part of the town.”
It should be ready to welcome worshippers — largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada’s far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities — in early November, he said.
The facility will also double as a Muslim community center, he said.