Roma Students

Western Technical Commercial Institute has launched a new initiative for its newcomer youth. There is a group of Hungarian students at Western technical Commercial Institute. Most of them have been in Canada for a couple of years now. Due to the immigration system many of these students’ status in Canada is not yet stable. These Hungarian speaking kids have Roma origin.  As of their background you must know that the biggest visible minorities are the Roma mainly in Middle-East Europe and in Hungary, too. Many of these kids and their families had been facing discrimination, harassment in Hungary before they left and arrived in Canada.

Adjusting to a new system is never easy and it takes time. It is really hard to build trust between these Hungarian speaking families and the school system. All they know about education is that teachers will not care about the education of their Roma children because they are not welcomed by the majority of the population in Hungary. Just because they came to Canada they will not be able to change their views about education or even the school system right after they arrive. Trust needs to be built again and rules need to be followed, too.

Wester Technical Commercial Institute and the SWIS program started discussions with the TDSB Welcoming Initiative for Youth and Kids program on how we could start trust building. We asked some of the students what would they do at school, what kinds of skill they would learn if they could. Girls were interested in esthetics and boys wanted to have weight lifting classes. With the help of the collaboration the school, SWIS program and the TDSB Welcoming Initiative for Youth and Kids program we could launch a morning session for girls where they learn how to do proper hair cutting, how to blow-dry or even perm hair while a trainer would work with the boys in the weight room. At the beginning we had only 2 girls but now more and more girls are willing to join this wonderful program where they can be together with other newcomers, especially Syrian girls and boys can lift weights and play soccer with Syrian newcomer boys as well.

Little by little these girls and boys will be able to make friends outside of their community and will get used to attend school on a regular basis. Every Wednesday morning even if it is a late start girls and boys line up at 8.45 to be able to participate in the program. This program will be continued in September and other high school have already initiated discussion on the program to be launched at their schools as well. Please join us on Wednesdays for a haircut or a blow dry if you are in a hurry!