“A few nights ago, I watched the North American premiere of the film Just the Wind at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film’s raw depiction of the experience of racism and oppression experienced by the Roma people left me deeply disturbed.
The family portrayed in this film lives in a poor, rural area of Hungary facing daily discrimination and harassment while attempting to maintain the semblance of normalcy. They hear of the violent murder of a neighbouring Roma family perpetrated by strangers who arrived in the night and killed the family, children and all, in cold blood with shotguns. The film is based on a series of racist murders committed against the Roma people in Hungary in 2008-2009. Such violent attacks continue today.
Beyond the sheer brutality of these murders, I was further horrified when the the family in the film shared their wish to escape to Canada. As the filmmaker put it, Canada, and specifically Toronto, is seen as “some kind of paradise” to Roma in Hungary, often with no detailed knowledge of this place. This brought on a nauseating feeling as I thought of the current government’s portrayal of Hungary as a “safe country” for the Roma people, who are themselves portrayed as bogus claimants. I thought of the Roma refugee claimants I have seen in my clinic, who are simply trying to find safety for themselves and their families, like anybody would. The government has pushed through unpopular Bill C-31 and changes to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugee healthcare which will both fast-track these people to deportation and deny them healthcare services while they are here.”