Prime Minister Trudeau’s greetings to Tamils for the Sinhala/Hindu New Year on April 14, 2017
Posted on April 16th, 2017

Mahinda Gunasekera

By Email
Tambrook Drive
Agincourt, ON M1W 3L9

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister,

Your Greeting and Good Wishes Extended to Tamils for the 2017 New Year 

I refer to the annexed message issued by you on April 12, 2017 to Tamils in Canada and around the world on the occasion of the New Year which falls on the 14th day of April, which is celebrated in Sri Lanka, India and many parts of South East Asia. I am deeply disappointed to note that your message of greetings and good wishes is extended only to those members of the Tamil community on the joyous occasion of the New Year filled with the bounty of the paddy harvest and an abundance of tropical fruits gathered from every garden in that part of the world. I and other members of our community who are originally from Sri Lanka have on a number of occasions brought it to the notice of the Prime Minister’s office that this day is known as the SINHALA and HINDU New Year in our common homeland, and celebrated by both the Sinhalese and Tamil Hindus who share the special treats and the traditional milk rice (kiributh) with the neighbours who belong to the rest of the constituent communities of the island.

As members of the multi-ethnic community of people from around the globe who have chosen Canada to be their adopted homeland, we Sinhalese who have also made a significant contribution to Canada, naturally feel less valued when the state authorities extend special recognition and treatment to a particular ethnic community. I also do not see the need to declare any particular month of the year as the special ‘Heritage Month’ of a particular ethnic community, as Canada’s parliament moved to adopt January as the ‘Tamil Heritage Month’,   or the Ontario Provincial Legislature similarly designating the month of January. A country such as Canada which has opened her doors to persons from every part of the world should avoid giving special recognition for any particular ethnic community, as it could lead to some feeling more Canadian than others thereby causing divisions and splits within the society.

The only community in Canada that needs to be given special recognition at all times is the Native Canadian Community also referred to as those comprising the First Nation of this country who welcomed everybody without claiming any exclusive right to the land, which they believed had to be shared by all the people and all other living beings inhabiting the land.  The only other communities that may be recognized and acknowledged are the colonial peoples of English and French descent who are the architects of the modern state of Canada.  The rest are later arrivals bringing with them their cultures and values to adorn the Canadian matrix making the country richer in skills and knowledge, thus forging a new nation and giving her the recognition as a Multi-Cultural Nation.

I trust you would avoid giving special recognition to persons of a particular ethnic community in pursuit of their votes in electorates where they form a significant number, as we are all firstly members of the same Canadian Nation having subsumed our individual ethnicities and merged with all others to form one single nation.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera

 

Encl.

 

Ottawa, Ontario

April 12, 2017

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement for Puthandu:

Today, Tamils in Canada and around the world will welcome the New Year, known as Puthandu.

On this occasion, families and friends will come together to feast, celebrate, and visit holy sites in a spirit of hope and optimism for the year to come.

This year, as we mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, let us take the opportunity to honour the many cultures, traditions, and beliefs that make Canada such a wonderful place to live. Our country is stronger and richer because of the contributions of Tamil Canadians.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I wish all those celebrating a peaceful, joyous and healthy New Year.

Iniya Tamizh Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal.”

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