“When large numbers of Roma refugee claimants began arriving in Toronto’s downtown west end a few years ago, the local schools were ill-prepared.
In a single week in 2010 around 250 Roma children from Hungary, most of whom did not speak English, enrolled at the Parkdale Public School alone. The school board was overwhelmed, and could find only one Hungarian speaker on staff.
A desperate school trustee called Gord Perks, the local councillor, to ask if the city had any culturally specific programs to help Roma kids transition into school. Perks could only answer that the city did not.
Perks related that anecdote in his opening remarks Tuesday at the first ever Roma Health Forum, and it clearly resonated with the roughly 200 city and non-profit workers in attendance. ”