Thank you, Gary, for your kind introduction and for your incredibly hard work for the Tamil community and for all communities. How about a big round of applause for Gary?
And thank you, big round of applause for all our great MP’s who work so hard across the GTA.
It’s great to be back in Scarborough for Tamil Fest again this year. I’m happy to report that my Kothu Roti is getting better, which I know you’ll all appreciate.
My friends, this event has become a real staple in the community – I’m told we’re expecting over 200,000 people this weekend, which is amazing.
I’m sure when Raj, Danton, and David started Tamil Fest 3 years ago, they didn’t expect it to take off like this. Congratulations on all your success!
And of course, I have to thank the Canadian Tamil Congress for their terrific work on behalf of the broader Tamil community, both here at home and right around the world—thank you CTC. And with the strong leadership of Dr. Shanthakumar, I know that this organization would only grow in the years ahead.
And those contributions of Canadians of Tamil Origins have been felt for decades since the very first boat of Tamil Refugees arrived in Newfoundland up until today.
This year, we passed motion M-24 in the House of Commons which designates January as “Tamil Heritage Month”, from coast to coast to coast.
This was a motion supported by the entire House of Commons but brought forward than none other than our great friend, the MP for Scarborough- Rouge Park, Gary Anandasangaree.
But just as we celebrate important contributions Tamil-Canadians are making to Canadian society, it’s also important to recognize darker milestones in Tamil history, too.
Last month marked the 34th anniversary of Black July – a devastating period that resulted in the deaths of thousands across Sri Lanka during the anti-Tamil pogroms.
And in 2009 and 2010, we saw Tamil men, women, and children arrive on Canada’s shores on the MV Sun Sea and Ocean Lady as asylum seekers. Their experiences remind us that although the war is over, long-term peace has yet to be reached on the island.
Canada has long called for a process of accountability that will have the trust and confidence of the victims of the war in Sri Lanka
As a society, and as a global community, we need to work together to push for greater rule of law, and a greater respect for human rights.
Peace and reconciliation remains an urgent imperative.
We know that when faced with our differences, the Canadian way is to love what sets us apart. To realize that our diversity is not a liability – indeed, it is the source of our greatest strength as Canadians.
And that’s something I know folks here today understand. And it makes me and all of us so proud to be Canadians.
My friends, thank you for inviting me to take part in this important celebration of history and culture. It’s always an honour to join you, and I wish you all a wonderful Tamil Fest.