The Roma Community Centre (RCC) opened in September 1997 after the arrival of over 3,000 Czech-Roma refugees in Canada. Since then, significant numbers of Roma refugees have s arrived from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia and other countries from the former Soviet Bloc, where they continue to face active persecution and systemic discrimination.
The RCC came into being to serve both the needs of this new, ethnospecific group of Czech-Roma refugees as well as Roma in general in the Greater Toronto Area. The RCC has now created a structure that assists Roma refugees from many countries to integrate more easily into Canadian society. We continue to work to raise awareness about the issues that lead the Roma to seek asylum in Canada and to change attitudes towards them through advocacy and educational programs.
The RCC operates in two main areas:
We serve the growing community of Roma refugees and immigrants, as well as native-born and long-established Roma. The RCC's social settlement program works in partnership with CultureLink in the Parkdale area of Toronto. This is where Roma can obtain information, advice and support related to the settlement process, as well as translation services. The RCC also operates a "Roma Youth Program" at CultureLink, designed to assist young Roma between the ages of 16 and 24 to meet, to socialise and to access educational and employment programs available to them as part of the refugee and immigrant community in Toronto.
We also help Roma refugees and immigrants obtain lawyers under legal aid and assist them in the process of applying for refugee status. We liase with social agencies such as the Metro Shelters Committee (who house refugees when they arrive) and with agencies that work with refugees as they move through the system to become landed immigrants. We also serve as a source of information about Roma and provide speakers at seminars, workshops and meetings.
At a practical level, we try to help Roma refugees with translation and interpreting. We help them finding housing and with the day-to-day problems that confront them. But without any funding in this area, we must rely on volunteers and social agencies which can only sometimes offer help.
Our "Public Education & Awareness Program" is part of our advocacy work. It is aimed both at the Roma themselves and at the Canadian public in general – to present an unbiased image of who the Roma are, their history and culture, their experiences living as a diaspora community and the issues and discrimination that they face in their home countries.
Our goal is to destroy the negative stereotype of the "Gypsy" and to replace it with a genuine understanding of the Roma as a legitimate ethnic minority with their own origins, history, culture and language. The RCC has successfully created an educational program at the junior and high school levels and has extended this to the university level. We hold press conferences concerning Roma issues in Canada and abroad. During our first few years, we published a quarterly magazine, Romano Lil , aimed at both the Roma themselves and Canadians in general. For information about our current educational programs please check the "Resources" webpages here.
1997 - 2007
Settlement and Immigration assistance to Roma Refugees - funded by Ontario Government
1998 - 2007
Ontario Ministry of Immigration & Citizenship has funded one position of a Roma Settlement Worker
1998 - 2011
Internet website: RCCToronto.org (since moved to romatoronto.org)
1998 - 2000
Designed a seven-module curriculum for primary schools on Roma history and culture with Toronto School Board
1998 - 2005
Quarterly newsletter: Romano Lil
ESL for Construction workers with a Job Developer funded by Maytree Foundation (3 months)
1999 - 2001
Two part-time positions of Parents/School liaison workers to assist Roma youth integration into the Toronto and Hamilton school systems
2000 - 2006
Conferences (attended or organized) :
1999 - 2007
Organized Roma Children Christmas parties with free presents
1999 - 2006
Organized Roma New Year/Christmas adult parties and summer picnics
1998 - 2003
Media Campaign "Call Us Roma Not Gypsies" to persuade media to use the term Roma instead of the pejorative Gypsy
2002 - 2007
2000 - 2006
Volunteer Program for Social Assistance
2004 - 2005
Employed a Youth Worker and run Youth programs; supported by Ont. Trillium Foundation and City of Toronto
1999 - 2006
Roma Lead Case -we were able to reverse an IRB decision at the at the Superior Court of Appeals (1999-2006)
With the Canadian Jewish Congress we managed to overturn the dismissed case of Skin Heads accused of propagating hatred at the Supreme Court (1997 - 2006)
NOTE: If you are reading a
of this website, please refer to the original English for accuracy.