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World Refugee Day 2012: An honour at a difficult time

 

June 15, 2012

 

by Kevin Burns

 

 

June 20th is the day designated by the UN as World Refugee Day. We wish to acknowledge the work of one person this year who has been recognized for her service to Roma refugees in Canada: this is Gina Csanyi-Robah, Executive Director of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto. Look out for a more in depth article on Gina soon.

 

Gina Csanyi-Robah has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her service to Canada’s Roma community. Csanyi-Robah is the executive director of the Toronto-based Roma Community Centre and is a passionate advocate on behalf of Canada’s Roma population. When she learned of her award Csanyi-Robah said, “While I am very grateful to be recognized for the work I have done, I would be happier if … the Harper government recognized that countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic are not ‘safe countries’ for the persecuted Roma minority, and to stop inadvertently condoning these human rights abuses that are taking place in parts of Central and Eastern Europe.”

 

She wants to use the award as a means of drawing attention to revisions to the process of refugee determination in Canada. “There are reforms that need to be made to our refugee system, but this Bill represents a major setback to the Canadian human/ refugee rights struggle,” says Csanyi-Robah.

 

Dominik Tomko, one of the refugee claimants in 'Never Look Back'

Photo courtesy of Gina Csanyi-Robah

 

The Roma Community Centre is a not-for-profit organization created in September 1997 following the arrival in Canada of over 3,000 Czech-Roma refugees. Its goals are to help newly arrived and Canadian Roma; and “to raise awareness through public education about the ongoing abuse of human rights of the Roma people and the rapidly growing nationalist and neo-Nazi movements that promote anti-Roma racism and hate” in countries where Roma continue to face persecution and systemic discrimination.

 

The Centre relies on volunteer support which Csanyi-Robah deeply appreciates. “It has been wonderful seeing so much of a positive outpouring from Canadians. We thank everyone that has supported our cause, and the many volunteers that have dedicated their time to helping the Roma Community Centre.”

 

Gina Csanyi-Robah received her award at a June 13 ceremony in Toronto.

 

For more on the Roma Community Centre, click HERE.

 

 


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