YUKON – Living in the westernmost and smallest of Canada’s three federal territories, Yukon Muslims are working to construct the territory’s first mosque, hoping it will work as a focal point for the area’s growing Muslim population.
“It would sort of help the community grow,” Yusuf Legere, a volunteer with the Yukon Muslims Society, told Yukon News on Friday, January 6.
“It would be like a foundation for the community.”
Legere moved to Whitehorse from Nova Scotia in September, and said one of the first things he looked into before he made the move was whether there would be a place to pray.
He got in touch with Muhammad Javed, the society’s organizer, who told him that local Muslims pray in an office space in downtown Whitehorse.
“That was one of the deciding factors as to whether I would come or not,” he said.
The Yukon Muslims Society website estimates that there are about 40 Muslim families in Whitehorse.
For them, the mosque works a venue for social gatherings and religious study, not just a place of worship.
“It would be really ungainly to have large group there, like for a potluck or something like that. It would be doable, but it would be kind of uncomfortable,” Legere said.
Raising funds for the mosque, the local Muslim community has raised about $45,000.
The society has a further $150,000-commitment from the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, a Manitoba-based Islamic charity.
It hopes to raise another $200,000 to purchase the land, and estimates that building the mosque will cost another $300,000, a portion of which will also be provided by the foundation in Manitoba.
“I’m hoping that it’s going to be beautiful but not ostentatious, and big enough to hold everybody and a few more, but not so big that it causes problems trying to run it,” he said.
As the community grows, it may be possible to provide more services to local Muslims, including renting a slaughterhouse to produce halal meat.
“The first step is to have a place to pray. And then the second step is to have an established mosque and then build the community around that. And then the community grows and establishes itself.”