In 2017 the number of Roma youth in attendance at Western Technical School (WTS) rose to almost 30 youth. In response to requests from the administrators at this school, SWIS arranged for a school staff PD session. Staff expressed a need to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by newcomer Roma youth at WTS. Arranged by Assad Mahmood of SWIS and facilitated by CultureLink’s Paul St. Clair, the session touched upon the Roma history of movement in Europe as well as their immigration to Canada. Learning about the Roma cultural norms and traditions assisted the teachers gain a better understanding about the long history of the Roma that has led to the current challenges of youth school attendance and low family trust in government systems including the school board.
Thanks to the motivated Principal and Vice-Principal of WTS, Virginia Pang and Lindsay McWaters, more support will be available to this school this winter through our Hungarian speaking staff Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) staff Hajnalka Klein. SWIS also fostered a partnership with the TDSB Welcoming Communities Program to bring more resources to the Roma youth through engaging them in after school programs at WTS.