A historic occasion for Canadian Tamils!

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Oct 10, 2016, 12:00 am IST
Updated Oct 10, 2016, 12:10 am IST
The Canadian Parliament recently voted to declare January as Tamil Heritage Month. Read to know what this decision means to Canadian Tamils...
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau trying his hand at silambattam.
 Canadian PM Justin Trudeau trying his hand at silambattam.

The history of Tamils migrating to Canada dates back to as early as the 1950s. In what is a historic occasion for the huge number of Tamil residents in the country, the Canadian Parliament recently voted to declare January as Tamil Heritage Month.

Motion M-24, which has been passed by the Canadian government, will “recognise the contributions that Tamil Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Tamil language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Tamil heritage for future generations by declaring January, every year, Tamil Heritage Month.”

A few Canadian Tamils share their excitement with us and describe what this decision means for them. David P, the director of public relations and the national spokesperson of Canadian Tamil Congress, says, “Canada is the first country in the world to do this and we, as Tamil Canadians, are extremely happy that our country gave  us this honour. In fact, earlier,  Ontario, the largest province in Canada, had declared January as Tamil Heritage Month. We are getting ready to celebrate the month all over the country! This decision will enlighten other Canadians of Tamilians’ achievements in this country and will also give them a chance to understand our traditions, culture and much more.”

David, who is of Sri Lankan Tamil descent and has been in Canada for over a quarter century, adds, “Tamil Canadian kids will also grow up with a sense of pride and contribute more to the country. Through these contributions, we all want to make Canada the finest place to live on this planet.”

Dilani Rabindran, a Toronto resident, also conveys her excitement. “The Tamil community here helps the young generation preserve our culture through various arts, especially music and dance. I have been learning Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music, the veena and violin since I was a kid. So, it is great that our efforts have been acknowledged.”   

Dilani continues, “While growing up, it really helped me understand the richness of our arts. Even though we are miles away from India and Sri Lanka, one could find a rich and vibrant Tamil music and dance community in every part of the country.” She also explains that a lot of children go to Tamil coaching classes in Canada — “There are well-organised Tamil schools and places that teach the language across the country. A lot of children go to these classes either on the weekend or after their regular schooling in the evening. They are learning to read and write Tamil at a very young age and that is really appreciated.”

Meanwhile, Udayabanu, a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, who is currently in India on a break, opines, “Canada, unlike many other countries, do not see us as migrants, but as part of their own. A lot of Sri Lankan Tamils are very active in politics and social initiatives here, and this might have been influential in government taking this decision.” She goes on to say, “As for  the celebrations, I don’t know what has been planned since I am currently in India. I can’t wait to go and celebrate with my friends there!”   

Vishwanath Narayanaswamy, an MBA graduate from Ivey Business School, Ontario, shares, “The Tamil community is quite huge in Toronto and it is a nice feeling to get this recognition. In fact, this talks about the depth of love for the language by both Tamilians from India, as well as Sri Lanka. It would be great to see the same reception back home too, although my love for it materialised only after moving here.”

— With inputs from Merin James, Balajee CR and Gautam Sunder


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