This Toronto Organization Played a Critical Role in Reducing Tamil Youth Violence in the 90s


CanTYD is a Tamil youth organization created in 1998 as a response to the heightened gang violence in the Toronto Tamil community at the time. A bloody war between rival gangs led to the deaths of dozens of Tamil youth.  Young men and women, who grew up under the cloud of this violence, and its subsequent stereotypes, wished to change these negative narratives and set out to establish CanTYD as a legitimate voice within the community.

Tamil youth workers, who took an active role in assisting and educating youth to turn away from violence, utilized prevention tactics to keep others from entering gangs. This concentrated effort assisted many youth from falling into a web of violence.

Actions such as this and other mobilization efforts resulted in the reduction of Tamil youth violence and the mainstream reporting and labeling of Tamils as gangsters. CanTYD also released a publication in 2000 entitled ‘Toronto Tamil Youth: The Realities’ that provided insight into the gang culture among Tamil youth.

Although Tamil gang violence began to decline in Toronto in the early 2000s, other issues that Tamil youth face such as stigma, cultural restrictions, sense of identity, mental health, sexual health, depression, substance abuse and substance dependency remained prevalent issues that the youth experienced and needed support with. CanTYD continues to address the changing needs of the youth to this day.

The organization also seeks to highlight the positive attributes of Tamil youth so that they can get attention for the talent and achievements that tend to go unnoticed. Creating positive, real life, relateable role models within similar cultural context create a powerful beacon of hope for youth. Whether it is homework help, or organizing sports and recreation actives, providing a platform for the leaders of tomorrow to shine or support those that have fallen behind, CanTYD is needed today as importantly as it was needed back then.

CanTYD will be hosting their ’15th Annual Awards of Excellence Gala’ on Sunday, October 26th, 2014  at Flato Markham Theatre.

This gala brings youth, families and community members together to celebrate the achievements of the Tamil youth. The gala helps to create role models and inspire Tamil youth to strive for excellence. Creating positive, real life, relatable role models within similar cultural context creates a powerful beacon of home for Tamil youth.

For inquiries about the gala , please contact:

Vathanan Jegatheesan at 416-431-4100 or

If you would like to find out more information about CanTYD and their programs and services, please visit them at

Related article:

Breaking Down the 90s – A Look Back at Tamil Gangs


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Kaavia has a passion for helping others and bringing the right attention to talented souls. She's really bad at singing, resisting chocolate temptations, controlling her love for her puppy, instagramming and hiding her feelings. You can email her at

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