The RomaRisingCA photography exhibit, a collection of photographs of members of the Canadian Roma (Gypsy) community, was officially opened this afternoon in the Osgoode Hall Law School Library. Roma Rising / Opre Roma – Portraits of a Community (romarisingCA), was created to challenge stereotypical views of the Roma community. Opre Roma derives from the Romani language, Romanes, and translates to “Rise up Roma”. The exhibit, sponsored by the Roma Community Centre in Toronto, will be on display in the Osgoode Library until October 4.
The photo portraits were created by Washington DC photographer Chad Evans Wyatt, who explains that the RomaRising project was launched in Hungary 2001 with portraits of Roma who, contrary to stereotypes, achieve in life careers that society understands and demonstrate that human aspiration to achieve is not limited to any ethnic or cultural group. The RomaRising project was extended to Czechoslovakia and Poland, and has now been brought to Canada. In Wyatt’s words:
Now there exists a work in progress, romarisingCanada. This greatly cherished experience sits apart from the European work. Instead of including only those who defy prejudice to accomplish the improbable, in Canada we have found a broad spread of citizens and newly-naturalised arrivals. Where formerly in Europe romarising concentrated on middle class and professional class individuals thought not possible, due to widely-held stereotype, in Canada we include absolutely everyone, on the basis that they work, pay taxes, care for their families and closest.
This would not have come about, were it not for the Roma Community Centre of Toronto, and its implacable Executive Director, Gina Csanyi-Robah. We spoke often of wish to display the European images in Toronto. When this approached reality, the question then became, Why not a romarisingCA? Gina immediately set about to make people available, and we accomplished a great beginning. Dafina Savić, Executive Director of Romanipe in Montréal was soon to seize the opportunity to extend coverage. Today, we have thirty-five portraits in Canada, and the series continues.
It is these Canadian portraits that are now on display in the Osgoode Library.
For more information about the RomaRising exhibit and the challenges of the Roma community in Canada, see the Osgoode press release.