Inuvik-bound mosque back on the road

A Winnipeg-built mosque on its way to the Northwest Territories is back on the road after being held up in Alberta.

A Winnipeg-built mosque on its way to the Northwest Territories is back on the road again after being held up in Alberta.

The mosque, built by a Manitoba-based Islamic charity and being shipped to Inuvik, was loaded onto a flatbed semi-trailer and left Winnipeg on Sept. 1.

It is destined for Hay River, N.W.T., where it is to be put on a barge and floated to Inuvik. Once there, it will be the world's northernmost mosque.

However, the last barge of the season leaves Friday and if the mosque doesn't make it to Hay River in time, it will have to wait until June.

The mosque was on schedule until it hit a weekend roadblock in Edmonton, with 1,000 kilometres of highway travelling still to go. The Alberta government does not allow oversized loads on highways on Sundays or statutory holidays.

'Devastating' delay

The mosque was back on the highway Tuesday morning, the day after Labour Day. But Hussain Guisti, who heads the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation that raised the money to build and ship the structure, said the delay could be "devastating."

"The mosque has to be there two days before the last barge leaves," he said. "That means it should be there on Wednesday.

"Next June — that would be terrible. That would just be sad that because of a day's loss on the highway. So I'm hoping and I'm praying."

He's also phoning.

Guisti plans to call the Northern Transportation Company and urge it to delay the barge's departure by one day to accommodate the delivery.

The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation decided to build the mosque to help fellow Muslims in Inuvik.

Dozens of Muslim families in the Mackenzie Delta community just north of the Arctic Circle now send their children to live elsewhere in Canada because there is no mosque or Islamic education centre.

For the past 10 years, Inuvik's Muslims have prayed in a converted one-bedroom trailer.

They have tried raising money for a mosque but the Islamic community there is just too small — only about 100 members.

It cost about $300,000 cost to build the mosque in Winnipeg and ship it north. That has saved the northern Islamic community tens of thousands of dollars in labour and material costs, according to organizers.

By the time the mosque reaches its destination, it will have travelled 4,000 kilometres by truck and barge.

With files from CBC's Meaghan Ketcheson