NUNAVUT – After years of fundraising and construction work, Muslims living in Iqaluit city, in Canada’s newest, largest, northernmost, and least populous territory of Nunavut, celebrated the inauguration of the city’s first mosque.
“By establishing this mosque, we are saying one thing: we are now an integral part of Iqaluit, we are now a part of the Iqaluit community,” Hussain Guisti, the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation’s general manager, told CBC News on Saturday, February 13.
The worshipping house, inaugurated on Friday, will serve as a prayer space and a community centre for Iqaluit’s 100 or so Muslims, as well as a place to learn about Islam.
The mosque, which was built at the cost of $800,000, is the result of cooperation between members of Zubaidah Tallab Foundation and the Islamic Association of Nunavut.
The foundation has also helped construct mosques in Inuvik, N.W.T., and Thompson, Manitoba.
“We just finished the mosque now. The guys were working outside underneath the mosque in –56 below,” Guisti said.
“I mean, that’s treacherous. If you can build a mosque in Iqaluit, you can build it anywhere else on the planet.”
According to Guisti, the new mosque will encourage more Muslim families to move to the Nunavut capital.
Along with catering for Muslim worshippers, the mosque leaders plan to operate a food bank at the site.
The makeup of Iqaluit’s Muslim population is already diverse. They’re engineers, doctors, teachers, government workers, taxi drivers.
“This mosque is not only for prayer, but for educating our kids, our families,” said Muhammad Wani, vice-president of the Islamic Association of Nunavut.
“This was a dream which came true.”
Muslims represent 3.2% of Canada’s total population.
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.