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July 23, 2017 – 34th Anniversary of Black July

It is with a deep sense of sorrow that I commemorate with you, the events of ‘Black July 1983’.

Today, we pause to remember this atrocity which was committed thirty years ago against civilians in Sri Lanka . Close to 4,000 people were killed, tens of thousands of homes and commercial organizations were destroyed.

It was due to this that hundreds of thousands of Tamils fled the country in search of a safe haven, many coming to Canada .

On this solemn occasion, we pay tribute to the victims, survivors and their families as we commit to ensure that such unspeakable acts are never repeated.

I believe that it is important for everyone to preserve their culture by passing historical events and traditions to future generations. It is important for us to remember the lessons of history and uphold the values Canadians hold dear – peace, freedom, democracy and respect. In doing so, we will develop a deeper understanding of our duty and responsibility to our fellow man.

It is our solemn responsibility to work together to ensure that not only Sri Lankans but all people in the world, live in peace and harmony in the future.

Since the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in May, 2009, there has been a marked deterioration in Sri Lanka with respect to human rights and the rule of law.

I believe that what happened in Sri Lanka was nothing less than Genocide.

The panel on genocide discussed the various forms that, taken together, constitute a genocide – the killing of civilians, the rape of women, the appropriation of property and the destruction of culture and language.

In discussing the way forward to peace in Sri Lanka I told delegates “To tango, it takes two willing participants. Unfortunately, in this case we have two participants who want to dance but can’t agree on the steps.”

I have worked with, and continue to work with, members of the Tamil and Sinhalese Canadian Diasporas in order to find ‘Peace with Justice’ in Sri Lanka .

Toronto is a proud multicultural city that embraces a wide variety of cultures and faiths.  Our city flourishes because of the diversity of people who have chosen to make Toronto their home. As we celebrate Canada 150 this year, it is important to recognize each and every community that plays a part in enhancing Toronto’s social and cultural landscape.

As the Newcomer’s Advocate with the City of Toronto I strongly believe that we must work to together to promote togetherness. We must Respect our newcomer communities. We must Accept our newcomer communities. We should Celebrate our diversity and Embrace our different cultures and traditions, because we are all part of the human RACE.

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