Roya Movafegh

R    respect, rise above
O    optimistic, open
Y    youthful, yearning
A    authentic, accepting

M    moving, magnificent
O    original, open hearted
V    visionary, vibrant
A    artistic, admirable
F    fearless, faith
E    engaging, expressive
G    generous, grounded
H    humility, harmonious

These qualities and attributes are born from experiences of joy, friendships, compassion, trials and triumphs; they are what stand out for me when thinking of Roya Movafegh.

Her journey as young child exposed her to many peoples and cultures, having been born in Austria, then spending her early childhood in Iran.  Early on, she faced what most only hear about when at 10, she with her Mother, Father, and young Brother, escaped from Iran.  Her book, The People With No Camel, tells of that experience.  Strength and courage exemplified by her parents during that time, brought her through to the next chapter of personal growth - being open and becoming accustom to life Germany, followed by the United States, and finally Canada.

As a teenager, Montreal was her home and she was able to set roots within a multicultural community.  Her artistic sensibilities and talent grew through her time in Vanier College, and blossomed in her twenties when she attended Concordia University and graduated with a B.F.A. in Photography and Film Studies.

It is at that time that I came to know her. I remember when first meeting her, admiring her unique sense of style – not because she wanted to stand out, but because she wanted to be her authentic self.  She had an admiration for those that did the same.  As our friendship grew, I could see that her experiences earlier in life made her curious, compassionate and welcoming toward others.  And I wondered if those same experiences influenced her artistic expressions as I often recognized Roya through her pieces, be it a burst of emotion or quiet mystery.

Though Roya may have been perceived by some as introspective or reserved – she had a very vibrant and humorous side.  She gravitated toward those who could make her laugh, and a hardy, unforgettable laugh she had!  Up for playing pranks on others, she held quite the poker face.  She was spontaneous, energetic and loved to dance - we often went to dance clubs the fantastic Montreal nightlife offered. Roya had a wide array of musical appreciation and often listened to classical and jazz, Miles Davis among her favourites.

In her late twenties, Roya left Montreal and settled in New York City where she continued to work on her art and grow her experiences.  She lived in Harlem and began to inspire others by serving her community.  She started The Young Harlem Photographers and co-founded The Children’s Theatre Company of New York – two organizations which focused on children and the arts.  Later when she settled in New Jersey, she founded a development program for children called Nobility Within.  All aspects of her art and community service can be viewed in more detail at

Living in the United States, she met her wonderful husband Hooshmand and had two beautiful girls, Lia and Ariane.  She grew an extended family in NYC and Hoboken in the Baha’i community, as she had many years before in Montreal.  She expanded her interests and explored disciplines in alternative medicine such as Reiki and Body Talk; she practiced and supported many.

Roya returned to Montreal a few years ago and re-connected with her extended family within the Baha’i community, old friends from high school & university, and of course made many new friends.  Full circle back to the city where she began expressing herself, growing into a splendid artist and finding her sense of self.  Roya’s path in this life led her through an extraordinary journey and those who were fortunate enough to cross her path – be it for a fleeting moment or over many years - have been touched by her in some way.  For those that weren’t able to know her, her qualities and soul are reflected in the eyes and heart of her children.

She served, she loved, she laughed, she inspired, she will not be forgotten, Roya Movafegh.


Bahá'í Center


177, av des Pins E
Montréal, QC H2W 1N9
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Phone: 514-849-0753

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Montreal Shrine


1548, av des Pins O, Montreal
Phone: 514-568-2104

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