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Community Life

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Romanians/G. James Patterson

Romanians in Canada have set up a number of voluntary associations. They founded mutual-aid societies in western cities such as Regina and Edmonton early in the century; similar organizations emerged in Toronto and Montreal in the 1950s. The ethnic-based societies served as credit unions, banks, insurance companies, and sometimes burial societies. Some Romanians also joined American societies, especially in Detroit and Cleveland.

There have also been Romanian clubs. The Bok-O-Ria Romanian Restaurant and Social Club (Bok-O-Ria is the phonetic spelling of bucurie, or pleasure) was founded in Regina in 1928. Edmonton had a similar club, which lasted until the 1960s. Toronto has the Dacia Romanian Cultural Association, the Romanian Canadian Association, and the Dacia Dance Ensemble, all founded about 1960. Hamilton, Ontario, has the Nae Ionescu Romanian Cultural Centre, launched in 1988. Such clubs and associations have existed in the past also in Calgary, Kitchener, Windsor, and Montreal.

There have been some informal neighbourhood organizations of Romanians in several Canadian cities, especially Regina, Toronto, and Montreal. Women’s auxiliary groups in the churches prepared food and organized festivals celebrating events in the church calendar – most notably, the Asociaú ia Reuniunilor Femeilor Orthodoxe (Romanian Orthodox Women’s Auxiliaries in America, or ARFORA). Such groups are on the decline as older members die and younger ones abstain from such roles.

In early Romanian-Canadian communities the parish priest might play a limited role in guiding and assisting the new immigrants. As communities were formed, association presidents became community leaders, as did heads of the women’s auxiliaries. Their primacy has declined with assimilation and secularization. First-generation immigrant leaders had little contact with the larger society; those of the second generation began to interact. Few such leaders have arisen since, given the weakening of Romanian identity.