The little mosque in the arctic that’s been causing an international media buzz has finally opened its doors yesterday november 10th at 2pm.
Since the mosque’s arrival in Inuvik on September 23rd, many people lent a helping hand to help finish the final needed renovations. A contractor from Ontario, who had heard about the mosque on the news offered to help out, he later designed and built a 32 foot minaret.
Hussain Guisti, general manager of the Zubaidah Tallab foundation in Winnipeg, organized and raised funds to build and send the mosque to Inuvik. He arrived in Inuvik yesterday to inaugurate its opening.
We would like to show you images and video, but all we can say is that we’re in negotiations to broadcast a little piece on this amazingly uplifting story. So keep on reading our blog for the latest news!
It’s great to see this story get press, below are a few links from international media:
If you overheard the small-talk in Inuvik these past weeks you probably heard something about the ‘little mosque in the tundra’, or ‘the little mosque in the arctic’. Everybody in Inuvik, us included, were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the mosque.
Rumours were circulating and everybody (this included the shipping company) seemed to have a different idea of when the mosque was to arrive. The mosque which was built in Winnipeg by the Zubaidah Tallab foundation was shipped on September 1st by truck to Hay River NWT and then by barge to Inuvik on the Mackenzie river to finally arrive, to the surprise of many in Inuvik, September 22nd at 5:30pm. The total distance travelled by the mosque was roughly 4000 kms.
After having called our taxi driver friends (who are almost all muslim) about the mosque’s immediate arrival, it wasn’t long before they showed up alongside their family and friends. Roughly 30 people greeted the mosque with waves, cameras, prayers and smiles.
The mosque is in town, but a lot of work still needs to be done before it’s opening. Tomorrow, it will be lifted and dropped on their newly purchased plot of land. Afterwards, a good month of interior touch ups will be needed in order to officially open its doors.
A lot more information to come, including video!
So stay tuned!
It’s easy to spot the taxi cabs in this arctic town of 3500 people. Their cars and mini-vans account for almost half of the city’s traffic and their massive cab numbers are on their back windshield like numbers on a hockey jersey.
But what’s even more interesting are the people driving the cabs. There are two taxi companies in this small town, both run and driven almost exclusively by Muslim men. And interestingly enough, these are the men who know everything and everybody in town. They keep people moving, they keep the town on schedule and to a certain point, they keep the city in line.
Take Mohammed Alley, (no, it’s not spelt Ali) taxi cab number 8 and manager of United Taxi cab co. Lebanese by origin, he has been driving cabs here for the last 15 years and in turn saw his town change and grow. Generous and open, he invited me to sit in the passenger seat during one his Saturday night grave yard shifts. I was in for a ride.
He picked me up at 10pm, I barely have a chance to say hi, because he’s constantly getting phone calls from people wanting him to pick them up. His clients call him directly rather then by dispatch. He’s seen these people grow up, go to school, get jobs, have babies and has developed a close relationship with the community that he says ‘wouldn’t be possible if he was in any other town.’
He’s more then just a driver, he’s an adviser and counsellor. A few days back a girl entered his car with a severely swollen ankle. Although she was reluctant to go see a doctor, Mohammed almost without her consent brought her immediately to the hospital. Saturday night, we picked her up from the emergency, cast on her foot all she said was ‘Sorry Mohammed, you were right, I’m sorry!’
It’s 2am and as the bar closes, northern lights are shining bright above the street that everybody crowds onto. Suddenly two police cars arrive, like wolves to a weak herd of caribou, they look for an easy catch. But here comes Mohammed, cutting through the street telling people to stay out of trouble and to get into his mini-van. Here he is once more saving the day.
When people drink here, he keeps them in check. He tells them they drank too much, tells them to stay away from certain people, reminds them to wake up in the morning for work, school or practice. I wondered how the night would have been if he wasn’t around.
I could keep on writing but to be short, I would just like conclude this blog by mentioning a moment which for me symbolizes what this town is all about. It happened when Mohammed dropped off his neighbour, a small quiet Inuvialuit women. She slowly walked out, waved to Mohammed and said ‘Salam, Shukran!’ that’s ‘See you and thanks’ in Arabic. The world, cultures and people are changing and who would have thought that one day Inuvialuits would speak a bit of Arabic. As much as we need to preserve our cultures, languages and heritage we also need to be proud of the links and bonds we have created between them.
Prochain Blogue/Next blog: La mosquée/the mosque!