Ronald Lee

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Ronald Lee (born 1934) is a Romani Canadian writer, linguist and activist.

Early life and education[edit]

Lee's father is a Kalderash musician from Europe. He immigrated to Canada where he married. He took his wife's surname of Lee.

Ronald Lee was born in Montreal. In 1939 his family took him to Great Britain on a visit. They were unable to return to Canada for several years because of the outbreak of World War II. The Lees returned to Canada in 1945.

He worked during the summer with his uncle for the fairs and amusement parks. In the fall, winter, and spring seasons, he attended night school in Montreal in the 1950s and 1960s.

When Lee was 18, he started to travel with a Kalderash family from Europe. He worked plating mixing bowls and doing other smithing arts, servicing restaurant kitchens, etc.

Later he took courses in journalism and creative writing.

Adult years[edit]

He began to work with the Canadian Roma as an activist in 1965, through the Kris Romani (Romani internal judicial assembly). He tried to foster a better understanding between Roma and non-Roma, to combat prejudice and misinformation in newspapers, and to help the Roma represent themselves. In the 1970s, he got involved in helping the Romani refugees from the Communist Eastern Bloc and ex-Yugoslavia. He went with Yul Brynner, Ian Hancock and John Tene to the United Nations on July 5, 1978 to present a Romani petition asking for NGO status. This was granted a year later.

From 1989–1990, he helped those seeking asylum who had been persecuted as Roma in their former countries. In 1997, he initiated and was one of the founders of Roma Community and Advocacy Centre[1] (based in Toronto) and the Western Canadian Romani Alliance, in Vancouver, in 1998.

Ronald Lee taught a course on the Romani Diaspora at the University of Toronto from 2003 - 2008.[2][3]

In 2014, Ronald Lee was honoured by Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, with an Honourary Doctorate of Laws.


  • Goddam Gypsy (1971), a popular autobiographical fiction novel translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Serbian, Czech, Russian, and other languages. Published by Tundra Books of Montreal, and McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Canada
  • The Living Fire (E Zhivindi Yag) (2009), the republication of Goddam Gypsy (above) under the author's originally intended title, by Magoria Books in 2009.[4][5]
  • Learn Romani: Das-duma Rromanes, University Of Hertfordshire Press, 2005
  • Romani Dictionary: Kalderash-English, Magoria Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9811626-4-5[6]


  1. ^ "蓑星真優華の末長い日記".
  2. ^ Books, Magoria. "Magoria Books: A Brief Biography of Ronald Lee".
  3. ^ "Learn Romani".
  4. ^ Books, Magoria. "Magoria Books:".
  5. ^ "The Living Fire (E Zhivindi Yag) by Ronald Lee".
  6. ^ Books, Magoria. "Romani Dictionary and Language Centre:".

External links[edit]