Mobilized by members of the Tamil Canadian community, these demonstrations brought together tens of thousands of protesters during the months of September 2008 to June 2009, culminating notably in the Gardiner Expressway blockade.
This online forum will bring together panelists and performers to reflect on how the protests have shaped the growth and thinking of a generation of Tamil Canadian youth.
We will discuss how art and activism have come to shape this movement throughout the diaspora and how these protests have been perceived by the non Tamil public, media, and politicians, while speaking to the current realities of the ongoing struggle in Eelam.
May 2009 will always be a period that Eelam Tamils will never forget. During this period, many atrocities were committed by the Sri Lankan military, including mass killings, aerial bombardment in No Fire Zones, use of chemical weapons, sexual violence, and denying access to food, water, and medical care. As the genocide escalated in the Tamil homeland, the Tamil diaspora took to the streets in desperation to catch the eye of the international community. The protests represented the community’s sense of loss, pain, and hopelessness as the death toll rapidly increased. Mullivaikal Diaries covers the stories of a group of Tamil youth and what led them to the protests.
Irudaya Dance Company
May 18, 2009 is known as “Tamil Genocide Day” around the world to remember those who died as a result of the Genocide in Sri Lanka. Protests were held by tens of thousands of the Tamil diaspora population in Canada and all over the world. In our performance we will portray how three different women were impacted by the May massacre and how the Tamil diaspora population around the world came together to seek justice for the innocent lives impacted. Keerthana Arulanandarajah, Yahlikah Mahesuwaran, and Cynthiya Sri Rangan are the Co-Founders and Directors of Irudaya Dance Company. Irudaya Dance Company aims to teach students about the ancient classical dance form of Bharathanatyam, while fundraising for social and economic initiatives within their community and back home.
Tamil Canadian Centre for Civic Action’s mission is to work towards the success of all Tamil Canadians in the social, political, economic and cultural spheres of Canada through education, documentation, engagement, training, mobilization, research, policy change and collaboration.
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.
Ninaivukal is a Tamil word that means “ Memories.” Ninaivukal started as an online web portal medium in 2008 to document the lifestyle and expression of Tamils in Greater Toronto Area. The Unity of the Tamil Community and their determination to stand for their political views are some of the key moments captured by Ninaivukal. Ninaivukal Magazine publications came to reality in 2011 as an annual publication. We capture any moments as large as gatherings at Rogers Centre to open ground events. For almost a decade, Ninaivukal has become an integral part of the Tamil Community in the GTA.
Thevya Balendran Thevya Balendran is an Eelam Tamil activist and community organizer. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Politics from Ryerson University. Presently, she is a Program Coordinator with Tamil Canadian Centre for Civic Action. She also volunteers as a Workshop Facilitator with People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) and organized Toronto’s Photo Exhibit on the Tamil Genocide. Her interest lies in exploring stories of resistance and resilience from refugees, marginalized and racialized communities.
Hiba Abdallah is an artist and organizer who frequently works with others. Her practice explores locality, civic resilience and political structures as tools for fostering collaborative agency. She received her BFA from the University of Windsor in 2012 and her MFA from the University of Guelph in 2017. She currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.
Images of Resistance Forum
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