little mosque on the tundra: 100 nationalities in a 3500 person Arctic town

I waited patiently for the History of Inuvik meeting to start on Tuesday evening. I saw the advertisement in the newspaper. We met at the library.

Turns out an eclectic mix of people attend these meetings—a United Nations mix. The East African countries were represented, Philippines, two Gwichen ladies (one with a five year old), and an older gal, an Inuvialuit, finishing some craftwork. There’s a fellow my age hanging in the back: Tony is the town’s primary community director. There are a couple middle aged ladies of mixed European descent minus accents, and later, a young gal from the newspaper.

They all seem to know each other—why would they be so interested in attending a history of Inuvik meeting with the rest of us tourists? Actually, am I the only tourist?

We all introduce ourselves. I am an interesting aspect to their meeting. You’re from where? Interior British Columbia. How long have you been here? Six weeks. What brought you here? A medical locum for my husband. And here you are at the meeting—oh, we’re so glad to see new faces to contribute new ideas to our community.

Hmmm, I feel like the odd person out.

A curiously different representation of the town of Inuvik then I would have guessed. Inuit. I expected Inuit. Or in my childhood days, I would have said Eskimos. Dark haired people in fur lined animal pelted jackets and papoosed babies on their backs. Definitely igloos. And lots of snow, of course. Not a French community. Not a Philippino community. Definitely not African people.

Most surprising of all, the Muslim community will be receiving their first mosque by September. On a barge through Fort MacPherson. Before the last ferry and the water ices over. “Little Mosque on the Tundra”.

I’m told that one hundred countries are represented in this 3500 person town.

I’m also told, this is the planning committee meeting for this summer’s Multination Day: You’re at the wrong meeting.


One thought on “little mosque on the tundra: 100 nationalities in a 3500 person Arctic town

  1. That’s funny! I didn’t notice all these groups – then I was only there three days, not six weeks. The mosque was built by the time I visited on the outskirts of town. I believe the even was also on CBC news.

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