A proposal to build a Tamil Community Centre in Toronto is getting closer to being realized. Toronto city councillors have approved 311 Staines Road as the designated site for a future Tamil Community Centre. Final approval is expected later in October.
“This has been a longtime dream of the Tamil community,” which is excited to see a property identified as a future cultural hub, Sivan Ilangko, president of the Canadian Tamil Congress, said in an interview.
The Steering Committee
"The site is at the epicentre of the Tamil speaking population within the City of Toronto, and in close proximity to the concentration of Tamil speaking residents living in the Markham and Durham region.
We look forward to the work we still have to do to bring this vision to completion, so we can provide a vibrant space for much needed programming and services not only for the Tamil community, but also Indigenous, Black, Caribbean and other marginalized communities who reside in the area, and who share the same needs.
It’s been a long year, but thanks to the City of Toronto, Mayor John Tory, and Councilor Jennifer McKelvie who have worked closely with us over the past year, this is now an exciting reality!" Read more from the committee.
"Canadian Tamils have proudly called Canada home since 1960, coming from various parts of South and East Asia, including Sri Lanka, India, Singapore and Malaysia, with their numbers dramatically growing between the late 80s and early 2000s due to the civil war in Sri Lanka. The 90s saw Tamils as the largest growing visible minority group in Canada, and the 2016 census showed Canada to be home to the largest Tamil diaspora outside of South Asia, with a population of 240,851 reporting to be of Tamil descent, heritage and/or culture, of whom 80% currently reside in the GTA. While a large number of these Tamils arrived here as political refugees, they have defied expectations as a refugee population, producing internationally recognized artists and academics, as well as successful students, business people and politicians.
In 2016, January was unanimously declared as Tamil Heritage Month in the House of Commons in recognition of the immense contributions Tamils have made to Canadian society, and of the importance of acknowledging the rich Tamil language and heritage, and their continued preservation through education. Yet, Canadian Tamils remain an underserved community in the GTA. The later waves of refugees arriving in Canada struggled to access services and encountered significant barriers to their progress, including language and the lack of programming spaces.
For close to a decade the community has been making moves toward the creation of a community centre to address the gap in services available to them. Those efforts are culminating in the present project to create a Tamil Community Centre in north east Scarborough to streamline services to the community and the neighbourhoods they inhabit, while also incorporating the needs of the mainstream community that would be able to access and use this facility." Learn more at TamilCentre.ca.