Muslim Woman Challenges Stereotypes about Islam in Canada

A Muslim woman is devoting much of her time to raise awareness about Islam across small town Ontario through a series of presentations and interfaith dialogue.

Barbara Helms was born Christian to American parents, who were accomplished classical musicians teaching in Canada.  In her 20s, she moved from the United States to Canada to study comparative religion.

In 1987, Helms reverted to Islam.

“I had become open to Islam through my studies as I found that its theology and the development of its sacred scripture made sense. However, it was a series of intense spiritual experiences that inspired me to convert,” Helms says.

Promoting true understanding of the Islam

In 1993, Helms moved with her family to Cornwall, Ontario, where she found a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, prompting her to dedicate her time to promote about understanding of the Islamic faith.

She has been involved in numerous community educational events, from presenting issues related to Islam in schools, churches and other local organizations, to giving cultural sensitivity training to different groups in

“People outside of the Muslim community have been exposed to so much fear-based misinformation that they deserve to have the opportunity to become better educated,” Helms says.

“I try not be impose my views on my audience, but give them a chance to understand the wide variety of opinions and practices within the Muslim community, as well as significant distinctions such as the difference between religion and culture, and the range of interpretations and affiliations. This helps them to see that Islam and Muslims are not monolithic concepts.”


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