Yukon News

Local Muslim group wants to build Yukon’s first mosque

Maura Forrest Friday January 6, 2017

Joel Krahn/Yukon News


Yusuf Legere, a volunteer with the Yukon Muslims Society, says a mosque will help the Muslim community in Whitehorse grow.

Whitehorse’s Muslim community is raising money to build the territory’s first mosque.

Yusuf Legere, a volunteer with the Yukon Muslims Society, says a mosque would be a focal point for Whitehorse’s growing Muslim population.

“It would sort of help the community grow,” he said. “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.

But he thinks that having an actual mosque, instead of just a rented space, would help attract more Muslims to the territory.

He said a mosque is a venue for social gatherings and religious study, not just a place of worship.

The downtown office space isn’t ideal for those purposes, Legere said.

“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.”

The Yukon Muslims Society website estimates that there are about 40 Muslim families in Whitehorse. Legere said the population is large enough now to be able to sustain a mosque, and the idea for the fundraiser has taken shape in the last year.

But the society has a long road ahead.

Thus far, Legere said, 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.

Legere said the society would like to purchase property in downtown Whitehorse. He said he’s not sure what the building will look like, but said it will be recognizably a mosque.

“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.”

This wouldn’t be the first mosque north of 60. In fact, Inuvik and Iqaluit already have mosques of their own, both built in partnership with the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation.

The Inuvik mosque opened in November 2010, after travelling nearly 4,000 kilometres by road and river from Manitoba. It replaced a one-bedroom trailer that was previously used as a place to pray.

The Iqaluit mosque cost about $800,000 to build, and opened its doors in February 2016.

But this would be a first for the Yukon. Legere said the Muslims Society hasn’t approached the City of Whitehorse or the Yukon government for financial support. But as a religious group, it is tax-exempt, meaning it won’t have to pay property taxes once the mosque is built.

“Once we get it up and running, we have to pay for heat and just the upkeep, so that’s kind of a donation in itself,” he said.

Legere said there’s no imam currently living in Whitehorse, but there are a few members of the Muslim community who are well-versed in the Qur’an. He said the job of leading Friday prayers rotates between a few people.

“It would be hard at this point to have a professional, like a scholar, come and stay here because he would have to have another job as well,” Legere explained.

But he said that as the community grows, it may be possible to provide more services to local Muslims, including renting a slaughterhouse to produce halal meat. And a mosque, he believes, will help to make that happen.

“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.”

Before moving to the Yukon, Legere worked on similar projects in Nova Scotia, and helped to get a mosque built in Halifax. He said a mosque in Whitehorse will feel like a second home.

“It’s a great place to recharge, refresh and just sort of renew yourself,” he said. “I believe that community should be more than just a place where a whole bunch of people live and work. The mosque gives… the Muslim community a chance to solidify and strengthen itself.”

And he said he’s “100 per cent” sure that a mosque will open its doors in Whitehorse one day.

“Oh, yeah, it’s going to happen,” he said. “I’ve only been here a few months, but I know that there’s a core group here that are very committed.”

Contact Maura Forrest at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Jonathan Colby wrote:
9:15am Monday January 9, 2017

To the people on about a synagogue before a mosque:

There is nothing in this article to suggest the Jewish population isnt working on exactly that. The efforts of one group doesn’t mask another group. Is this how you people really think? Is that what passes for logic for you?

Ignore those who automatically reject the idea of a mosque. They have likely never spent time in a Muslim community or visited a mosque during community events. Theyve never borne witness to the truth that the VAST majority of people are the same wherever you go, and whatever they believe

petertheissen@facebook wrote:
5:52am Monday January 9, 2017

REFRESHING TO see Multicultural /Muslim&Christian; Faiths dwelling together in Harmony….We have Little Mosque on the Prairie TV/Show and Multicultural People’s of all Nations…..I am a Christian married to a Muslim..we dwell in Peace together…such When Allah/God/aka JEHOVAH returns in all his Glory all Nations will bow before the a great Spirit..Amen….AsSalam Malukum..Peace be withyou all Brothers &Sisters; ......Amen..

Francois wrote:
2:31am Monday January 9, 2017

in the article: “The Iqaluit mosque cost about $800,000 to build”
Ask once who paid for? Where this money come from? if you are want to do good things for the Yukon, then Yukon News should once investigate where the money come from for build this planned mosque! May search in the same countries who finance the attacks against us…

Naji wrote:
1:23am Monday January 9, 2017

May Allah help you, start with what you can Allah will help you insh Allah

Dave wrote:
7:41pm Sunday January 8, 2017

Taj, please come to Whitehorse so we can welcome you.Everyone will mark the date on our calendars and we’ll roll out a red carpet and everything. I can’t wait, just give us the date…

Cathy wrote:
1:58pm Sunday January 8, 2017

They have every right to build a mosque as any other religious group has to build a place of worship for themselves.  To suggest differently simply because of their beliefs is a kind of bigotry that should not be tolerated here.

Amal wrote:
12:53pm Sunday January 8, 2017

Great news! How can my husband and I make a donation?

Colleen wrote:
11:17am Sunday January 8, 2017

Good luck to your congregation! smile

ProScience Greenie wrote:
11:17am Sunday January 8, 2017

You should be aware Farah that there are lots of very legitimate reasons for being critical of the various religions and spiritualism movements that exist. Especially for us non-believers and practitioners of science. Not all of that criticism is bigotry. As well, your use of the term ‘whiteness’ makes your comment the most bigoted one on this story to date. Perhaps you should spend a bit of time to get up to speed on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

ProScience Greenie wrote:
11:11am Sunday January 8, 2017

As a non-believer / infidel / heathen , which happens to be one of the most dangerous things to be in most of the world to be, just about every religion has a big scary factor including the big three Abrahamic ones. I would feel a little less concerned if the firewall that is the separation of ‘church’ and state was strengthened by removing the tax-free status of all religious and spiritual organizations. Of course, acts of true charity which do not include any proselytizing could be considered for tax-free status.

That aside, most religious people are decent folks and practicing any religious is a fundamental right so all the best to this group in finding a home.

Hussam wrote:
8:01am Sunday January 8, 2017

That is a valuable objective many smart people will benefit from this Masjid (Mosque).

Taj wrote:
1:13am Sunday January 8, 2017

By the comments on this post I wonder if muslims are appreciated in Whitehorse or are they just tolerated. I think its a wonderful idea to use a place like a church that is no longer functioning and to rebuild that instead- more environmentally friendly which i am a huge fan of. In the UK we have recently rebuilt an abandoned Pub/drinking bar and rebuilt it in to a mosque, it does not affect the community in the surrounding area instead it createa opportunity for people to come together muslim and non muslim alike.

I would love to visit Whitehorse but fear that the people of Whitehorse arent that welcoming.

P.s is there a large number of Jewish people in Whitehorse? Why would it be suggested that there needs to be a synnagogue before there is a mosque?.

drum wrote:
11:15pm Saturday January 7, 2017

Not a good time to be building a mosque in this town.  People are too sensitive to what is happening in the world to support this.  People are scared of Muslims gathering in numbers - moving to the Yukon.  How many Jewish people live here and have they been trying to find a place to worship!!!.

Jonathan Colby wrote:
10:22pm Saturday January 7, 2017

Doppleganger, git!

@ Suggestion
I was wondering the same thing. If an older building can be renovated, great.

I don’t think that would ever come up, but of course you are right. It’s bad enough we have religious schools; we don’t pay taxes to god.

anon wrote:
10:07pm Saturday January 7, 2017

a special place to pray to some magic man in the sky that doesn’t exist, Yay!

Farah wrote:
9:50pm Saturday January 7, 2017

Some of the comments reek of bigotry. But they won’t admit it because their whiteness prohibits them to think of the ‘other’ before themselves. If you can hve a place of worship, why cannot Muslim?

Seriously... wrote:
9:39pm Saturday January 7, 2017

Juice and steve, if you Have a problem with a mosque opening in Yukon at least offer an explanation why. Then a meaningful conversation may come of it. Or are you happy with everyone reading this to assume you are bigoted scardy cats?

Secular Pete wrote:
8:46pm Saturday January 7, 2017

Let’s all pretend to embrace this idea because we won’t admit we’re afraid of them.  Then let’s mystify as to what happened to equality for women when that disappears.

DG wrote:
5:47pm Saturday January 7, 2017

If they raise the money on their own then good on them, build it. I just don’t want to see our tax dollars help fund it…I don’t think our tax dollars should fund any religious building/events.

Steve wrote:
2:39pm Saturday January 7, 2017

I don’t think, that’s a good idea.

yukonmosque wrote:
10:13am Saturday January 7, 2017

Great to hear!

Suggestion wrote:
1:03am Saturday January 7, 2017

Why don’t you purchase the Catholic church in Porter Creek? or another church that is no longer utilized (the Salvation Army is rebuilding downtown, so maybe that property is for sale). Makes more sense to use an existing space than to build a whole new space. More environmentally friendly too….

Juice wrote:
8:55pm Friday January 6, 2017

Good god I hope not

Tom wrote:
6:38pm Friday January 6, 2017

There’s not even a synagogue yet here in the Territory, I think that should be a priority before a mosque.

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