Published: | Canada

Over 30 Tamil Organizations Gathered to Launch the Tamil Community Centre Initiative in Toronto

Multiple community organizations, media outlets and political leaders gathered in late March to launch the Tamil Community Centre initiative in Toronto.
"Today is an important day in the history of Tamil Canadians. We had over 30 organizations, many media outlets, almost all of the Tamil Canadian elected representatives and many well-respected community advocates/leaders present at the town hall to launch the Tamil Community Centre Initiative! This is a historic first in our community. Even though our community had tried for community centre a few times through individual organizations, this is the very first time, we have come together collectively to put a joint effort. I am humbled to be given the opportunity to be in the Interim Steering Committee to work with seven other awesome, committed, passionate and action-oriented individuals to take on the responsibilities for first part of the much-needed ground work for this long but rewarding journey for our entire community."
-Neethan Shan, Executive Director of Urban Alliance on Race Relations and former Toronto City Councillor 
The meeting included attendance from Toronto's Mayor John Tory, MP Gary Anandasangaree, MPP Logan Kanapathi and Vijay Thanigasalam.
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), NCCT (National Council of Canadian Tamils) and Ideal Group completed a presentation regarding the efforts required to build the centre. In addition, an interim committee was announced to take the project to the next level.
Here is the scope of the work and the members of the team which were identified.
Scope of Work:
1. To collect information from all three levels of government on the different options and mechanisms available to secure their support for the project 
2. To obtain community input from various stakeholders on governance and programming of the potential community centre 
3. To bring forward two or three options for the governance of the first phase of the initiative (3 years) 
4. To collect information about other cultural centres belonging to various diverse communities in Toronto and the rest of Ontario
5. To maintain an online portal that provides timely update to the public on all activities including all the meetings of the working group as it happens, as a way to ensure and to promote full transparency and accountability. The portal will also have interactive elements allowing the public to share their comments, suggestions and questions with the working group to advice them on the ongoing activities
The 8 members of the Interim Steering Committee (Working Group):
Dr. Lambotharan:
Dr. Lambotharan is one of the most remarkable medical personalities of Toronto. Hundreds of people queue up every day to meet him for medical consultation. His approach is filled with patience and empathy. Dr Lambotharan, through his commendable service to his society, sensitizes to everyone that want of time is no excuse for neglecting one’s duty to the community. As a dedicated member of IMHO, Dr.Lambotharan has extended his medical assistance to the people of Sri Lanka . Every year he spends a considerable period in his mother land to provide service to the poor and the needy. His service includes destitute and orphaned children. His tireless, immaculate work is highly noble and praise worthy. With a great social accountability, Dr.Lambotharan designs a better dawn to the people of a war torn country.
Dr Vadivelu Santhakumar:
Dr. V. Santhakumar is the currently the president of the Canadian Tamil Congress. He is the lead Family Physician at his Center City Medical Clinic, which is a multi-service primary care clinic in Mississauga for over 20 years. He is the founder, past president, current advisory director of the Canadian Tamil Medical Association (CTMA), previously known as CMDDA, a registered charity in Canada. Dr. Santhakumar participated in many fundraising activities for this organization to provide medical humanitarian assistance to developing countries. He continues to assist in CTMA activities, organizing health education seminars for new immigrants, help publish health care magazine and has contributed to health education through Radio and Television. Dr. Santhakumar is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award given to him in appreciation of his volunteer service with the community. He also received the Ontario volunteer service award in 2016. Dr. Santhakumar is a member of the clinical teaching staff at the Mississauga campus, University of Toronto -School of Medicine.
Nedra Rodrigo:
Nedra Rodrigo is currently completing her PhD in the Humanities program at York University, on Tamil refugee narratives. She is a co-founder of the Tamil Studies Symposium at York University, where she is also developing an archive of Tamil Resources. She is a Spoken Word artist who has been featured at Scream in High Park, Desh Pardesh and Masala Mendhi Masti, and whose poetry has been published in various anthologies. She has translated works by R. Cheran, V.I.S. Jayapalan, Puthuvai Ratnathurai, Rashmy, Theva Abira, Siththanthan Sabapathy, Kuna Kaviyazhakan and Fahima Jahan, and her essays have been published in the International Journal of the Humanities, Global Tensions, Global Possibilities; Human Rights and the Arts: Essays on Global Asia; and Studies in Canadian Literature.
Neethan Shan:
Neethan Shan, currently Executive Director of Urban Alliance on Race Relations, is a former Toronto City Councillor and Toronto District School Board Trustee for Scarborough—Rouge River. From 2006-2010 he was also elected as a York Region District School Board Trustee. Neethan Shan began his career as a Youth Outreach Worker in Malvern. Neethan went on to become a manager for youth programs in Malvern, where he developed and implemented over twenty programs in many different schools. He has served as a Math and Science teacher, a youth outreach worker, college professor, and is the former Executive Director of CanTYD and of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. Neethan’s extensive involvement in the social services sector also includes work with Parent Action on Drugs, Malvern Community Coalition, Community Use of Schools Council, and Scarborough Youth Task Force, just to name a few organizations.
Neethan Shan has a distinguished human rights advocacy record, receiving many awards including the Race Relations Award from the Urban Alliance for Race Relations and the Vital People Award from the Toronto Community Foundation. As a Toronto City Councillor, Neethan was Toronto’s Youth Equity Champion and Newcomer Advocate.
Vithu Ramachandran:
Vithu Ramachandran is a lawyer with a practice in Civil Litigation, Real Estate, Family and Estates. He received his J.D. from Hofstra University, in New York USA, with a specialization in International Law. Prior to that, Vithu received his Bachelors in Commerce from York University in Toronto, Ontario. Vithu is currently working on a project with the Canadians Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce within their Governance Committee and their Building Committee. Vithu also operates a successful ecommerce enterprise and is a very proud husband and father.
Siva Vimalachandran:
Siva Vimalachandran is the Executive Director for the York University Student Centre (YUSC) and has led the development of the New Student Centre at York University from its embryonic stage. He coordinated the design, construction, financing, and operation of the YUSC. He currently oversees all management functions of the Student Centres at York University including strategic planning, public relations and organizational development.
Keerthana Rang: 
Keerthana Rang is a Communications Associate at Sidewalk Labs. Prior to Sidewalk Labs, Keerthana was the Director of Communications Tour for the 2018 John Tory re-election campaign. Before joining the campaign, she was in the Mayor’s office as Mayor John Tory’s Senior Manager of Communications and Tour. With experience in both politics and the public sector, she provided strategic direction to the Mayor on communications, issues management and media relations. She also managed the Mayor’s team responsible for his public appearances.Keerthana is passionate about public service and city building. She enjoys using her professional experiences to tell the story of city-building projects and the work that’s being done to make Toronto better for its residents.
She previously worked in communications for Metrolinx and the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty. She is a York University graduate with a degree in Political Science and International Development Studies.
Pamela Ketheeswaran: 
Pamela Ketheeswaran is a Board of Director for the National Council of Canadian Tamils. She is also a clinical coordinator for an Autism Centre located in Etobicoke, Ontario, She strives hard to work for both the developmental disabilities community, as well as the Tamil community! She is an advocate for Tamil rights, and continues to work towards building up the Tamil community.  

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