WINNIPEG - Thanks to a Manitoba Muslim charity, the Arctic could soon have its first mosque.
The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation formed in 2007 and quickly realized its initial goal of building a mosque in Thompson, so it's no surprise the organization took up the cause of raising a place of worship for the 100-strong Muslim community of Inuvik, N.W.T.
The foundation's general manager, Hussain Guisti, said the organization quickly agreed to get on board with raising funds for the $271,000 project and securing plans for the Inuvik mosque after they learned the Northwest Territories community was looking for help in January 2009.
Lots purchased by the Muslim Association of Inuvik have been transferred to Zubaidah Tallab and work is getting underway in Winnipeg on the new structure being called the "Mosque on the Tundra" that Guisti hopes will begin a 4,500-km land and water journey next fall.
The building will be trucked up to Hay River, N.W.T., on Great Slave Lake, where it will be taken by barge up the Mackenzie River to Inuvik.
The foundation still needs to raise a significant amount of the funds for the project, but Guisti said he's confident the Muslim community will step up to the challenge.
The foundation will own the mosque but it will be managed by the local community.
"It's very significant for them," said Guisti. "They really need a mosque. Right now they're using a trailer which is nine by 14 feet, which does not accommodate their needs."
The new building will also serve as a community gathering place in the town of about 3,500.
Guisti expects other northern Canadian Muslims will also travel to use the new mosque.
"We're doing pretty much everything until it gets up there," he said of the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation. "The community will lift it from the barge and put it on the foundation."
The community will also add a minaret after the building is in place, Guisti said.
The mosque will feature men's and women's prayer halls and an ablution room for ritual purification before prayer.
Guisti said the most northerly-located existing mosque in Canada is in Whitehorse, Yukon.