Little Mosque on the Arctic
I have been following with interest the creation of a Mosque in Canada's Northwest Territory, in the town of Inuvik on the Mackenzie River delta above the Arctic Circle.
This is an indicator that significant numbers of Muslims have immigrated to Canada and spread across the country, from sea to sea to sea. Much has happened since the first mosque in Canada was built in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1938. It is the al Rashid Mosque which was begun to create a spiritual home to some Syrian farmer in the area. The Christians and Jews in the then small city of Edmonton help them built their mosque.
The town of Inuvik about 3500 population.
There is a small Muslim group in Inuvik, about 100 people. They have been without a Mosque.
The Mosque is so central to the life of Muslims they have sent their children to live elsewhere in Canada since they are without a Mosque. Now they will be able to come home.
A Muslim charity in Winnipeg, Manitoba has had a small Mosque prefabed there and it has been shipped the 4000 km to Inuvik, across the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and then north to the Northwest Territory and the town of Hay River. At Hay River the Mosque was put on the last barge north before Winter on the Mackenizie River to make the 1800 mile trip to Inuvik.
It has just arrived in Inuvik to the delight of the Muslim community there. After a little finishing work there will be an offical opening and an appropriate name given to the Mosque.
It joins the other unique religious home in Inuvik, the Igloo Church, Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.
The mosque being built in Winnipeg.
The Mackenzie River is one of the great rivers of North American. It is the longest in Canada. Since it flows north into the Arctic few Canadians have seen it. It passes through some wonderful country with only sparse population. It is the traditional homeland of the Dene, Métis and Inuvialuit Nations. This is Canada's true North for those who think I live in the north here in the southern fringe of Northern Ontario. The river has been the traditional highway for transportion for those who want to go "down North" toward the Arctic. Now Inuvik can also be reach by car in the summer along the gravel highway, the Dempster Highway.
It was a great effort to transport the Mosque from Winnipeg to Inuvik. There was good will all along the way. In the light of the anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States these days it is reassuring to know that this Mosque was aided in it's journey and welcomed along the way with goodwill. This is just one of the ways that Canadian culture differs from American culture. We are more welcoming and less fearful of other religious and ethnic communities which seek to find a home in Canada.
We can all be pleased for the small Muslim community in Inuvik that now they have a Mosque, a spiritual home. It will make it possible for more Muslim families to consider making the northern community a place to call home.