The seven day period each year ending on May 18 is Tamil Genocide Education Week in Ontario. The Tamil Genocide Education Week Act passed last year makes Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to recognize and name the genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
During this time period, Tamils gather to remember and reflect on the heinous acts of human rights violations against Tamils in their homeland. It’s an opportunity for the Tamil community, the survivors, their families and those affected to spread the awareness of what happened to their people during the civil war that lasted over 30 years in Sri Lanka.
It’s estimated by some agencies that the genocide claimed as many as 150,000 lives.
The fight for justice, freedom and the right to self-determination is on-going for Tamils. Thousands are still unaccounted for, many continue to be displaced and have been searching for their loved ones.
Ontario boasts one of the largest Tamil communities outside of Southeast Asia. Despite the adversities they have overcome and their successes, the intergenerational trauma, runs deep and affects multiple generations.
This year is the 13th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre, marked each year on May 18. Leading up to this day in 2009, thousands of Tamils, particular young people took to the streets of Toronto to raise the attention of the plight of their families and loved ones. One of the most memorable moments of activism was May 10, 2009 when the Tamil community occupied Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway to attract the attention of the international community.
Tamil Genocide Education Week is an opportunity for OPSEU/SEFPO to acknowledge the genocide against Tamils and show our solidarity for the ongoing struggle for freedom and peace in Tamil Eelam. We believe it’s time to name this genocide and spread awareness so that such crimes against humanity are not allowed to continue anywhere in the world. We stand with the Tamil community as they continue to heal while fighting to hold those responsible accountable.
JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer