Canada is home to more than one million Muslims, and 8% of Toronto’s citizens practice Islam. “We have fifth-generation Torontonians who happen to be Muslim descent, Muslim heritage. They’ve been here 50, 60, 70 years,” says self-described “armchair urbanist” and local community activist, Himy Syed.
Mr. Syed is also a director of a popular city tour entitled “The History of Muslims in Toronto.” The walking-tour stops off at the Dundas Street Mosque (the city’s first mosque), Toronto’s first Halal Butcher Shop (in Roncesvalles Village), and the renowned Jami Mosque.
Studies have shown that when non-Muslims interact with people of the faith, they have a much more positive view of Islam. “We need space to talk about this kind of thing, and we want to see the faces of these stories,” says Denise Pinto, director of the tour. “It helps people empathize with citizens who live with them.”