The first mosque in northern B.C. opened its doors on Saturday in Prince George.
Muslims in the region have been worshipping in rented rooms and church halls for years but now — after two years of construction — locals finally have a mosque of their own.
"In a mosque, you have a place where you do your own activities that's your own. You don't have to call somebody to ask to rent or to come in," said Dr. Firas Mansour, a local doctor and the project manager for the Prince George Islamic Centre.
"This will be the gathering point, the focal point of all activity."
Built from local wood, the mosque windows face both Mecca and a nearby grove of pine trees.
Local residents, with help from mosques across Canada, raised more than $1 million for construction costs.
They also got a helping hand from a seven-year-old girl who asked her party guests to bring donations for the mosque instead of gifts for her.
"A girl came that evening after the birthday party here and made the contribution," Mansour said.
"And we were extremely happy to see the involvement. It is an important sign to show how the community at large is supportive. If the parents weren't supportive, the kids would not be supportive."
Mansour said Prince George residents have warmly welcomed the mosque.
"It's definitely one of the misperceptions of many immigrants, that smaller communities are not welcoming as the larger urban communities."