Inuvik, a town of 3,300 people north of the Arctic Circle, has some 80 Muslim residents who until recently have met for prayers and religious education inside a small trailer. Guisti, a member of a Winnipeg-based Muslim charity called The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, decided last year he would help design and build a mosque for the northern community.
Mosques are more than just a place to pray.
“It’s where we pray five times a day, where we socialize, where we hold weddings, where we hold religious schooling for the kids,” he said. “A mosque is at the centre of daily life.”
The group originally wanted the mosque to be built in Inuvik but soon realized having a prefabricated building constructed in Winnipeg would be much less expensive, even with the lengthy shipment factored in.
Getting the oversized load through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories was a bigger challenge than the group imagined. There were narrow bridges and highways under construction, as well as transport regulations which outlined when and where the building could travel.
When the truck arrived in Edmonton on Labour Day weekend, it was stalled as the drivers were told oversized loads were not allowed on Alberta highways on Sundays and holidays. Guisti began to fret, as he was trying to get to Hay River, N.W.T., before the last barge of the year departed down the Mackenzie River for Inuvik.
The obstacles didn’t end there. After crossing the Alberta-N.W.T. boundary, the truck came to a narrow bridge undergoing repairs. As the driver tried to gingerly drive across the bridge, the mosque started tipping to the right.
It made it. Apparently it's now the second most northerly mosque in the world outside of one in Siberia.