For such a small and remote town, Inuvik has sure taken the attention of the Toronto-based Muslim Welfare Centre.
The organization funds the Midnight Sun Mosque’s Arctic Food Bank and flew up several members for a community celebration last week, in which the centre also gave out 100 school backpacks to children.
“I see the need here,” said Shahid Ahmed Khan, executive director of the organization.
“You can see the kids, when they saw this program, they were really excited. My main intention is to help the kids.”
When people in Toronto ask him why the centre supports the community in Inuvik, Khan says the need is clear.
“That’s the only reason we came here, to help the community,” he said.
The centre helped open the Arctic Food Bank two years ago. It now has 550 people registered and gives out food to about 120 families every two weeks.
All that support doesn’t come free.
Khan said the centre spent about $120,000 on the food bank last year.
“The community needs that service here,” he said. “We ask our donors to help and I’m pretty sure we’re going to get this money.”
Beyond the school backpack program, there are a number of other services Khan would like to bring to Inuvik, including a free medical clinic.
“I’m going to try because I can see the need here for that,” he said.
The event on Sunday brought more than 50 people together for an afternoon feast after prayers and opening statements.
A spirit of community service seemed to be in the air, as Aklavik nurse Darlene Douglass found herself volunteering to help out right after arriving in Inuvik for training.
She had met a member of the mosque in her taxi ride into town.
“We just started talking and he told me they had a mosque in this community and I said, ‘Oh, let’s go see it,’ before I even dropped off my suitcases,” said Douglass.
She gushed about the positive contribution the Muslim community was making to the town.
“Seeing how the Muslims incorporate themselves as an identified body here and a family presence in Inuvik and how they embrace everyone… I think it’s something that’s really important and it shouldn’t be understated, the value of that,” said Douglass.
Khan thanked the community for its support in return.
“I really like this community,” he said.