Finally, Bianca Gaborva, 17, sitting toward the back of the English-as-a-second-language class at Glendale Secondary School, speaks up. She came as a Roma refugee from Slovakia in 2008.
“People tell me ‘You’re a Gypsy, go back to your country,’” she says shyly.
“Yes, me too,” agrees Zabeta Baftijari, 17, in the front row. Her voice lifting, the Kosovo refugee says she doesn’t understand why some people don’t understand that cultural divisions have no place in this society. “This is Canada.”
Suddenly, as if a seal has been broken, the stories of judgment and discrimination flow freely. Beyond a few minor flashes of anger, however, these teens show little emotion or outrage as they speak. They simply shrug their shoulders when asked why they are not more upset by the judgment and challenges they and their families experience in the community.