Inuvik Muslims buy land for town's first permanent mosque

Two empty, snow-covered lots in Inuvik, N.W.T., could soon be home to Canada's most northerly mosque.

Two empty, snow-covered lots in Inuvik, N.W.T., could soon be home to Canada's most northerly mosque.

The Muslim association in the Arctic town of 3,500 recently purchased the lots, after three years of fundraising.

"It's suited for a mosque or for a church or for a religious place," association president Said Daher told CBC News in an interview.

The association has raised more than $40,000 to date to start paying off the land. Daher said members hope Muslim groups from across North America will chip in to help fund the building.

For the past eight years, Inuvik's Muslims have prayed in a converted one-bedroom trailer. But space in the makeshift mosque is getting tight — Friday prayers can attract up to 25 people.

"The Muslim population is growing," said Muhammad Muhammad, who prays five times a day in the trailer. "It doesn't really fit for everybody, especially if there is an event."

By comparison, Daher said the proposed mosque will hold up to 100 people, and have space for activities beyond prayer.

"We thought we were in need for a community centre for social activities, for kids just to get together," he said.

"And if we have visitors, let's say, from outside, you know, they have a place to stay."

Muhammad said having a permanent mosque would be a milestone for the Muslim community in Inuvik.

"We always thought about it, to have a mosque, and we always dreamed about it actually. And hopefully it will be accomplished."

There are no current statistics on the number of Muslims in Inuvik, but census data from 2001 show 45 Muslims in the community that year. The Northwest Territories had 175 Muslims in the 2001 census.