Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre marks 20 years of empowerment


‘New immigrants dealt with many hardships in their new home, one of them gang violence,’ writes Rasika Thangarajah

Rasika Thangarajah is a student at the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre (CanTYD) in Scarborough. – Alyssa Vidal/photo

The Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre (CanTYD) was founded in 1998 in response to an increase in violence among Tamil youth in the late 1990s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a large population of Tamils emigrating from the war-torn country of Sri Lanka. The new immigrants dealt with many hardships in their new home, one of them gang violence.

With many lives being lost or influenced into dangerous situations, a few Tamil youth at that time decided to lower the ever-increasing violence and founded CanTYD.

CanTYD’s main focus lies in designing, implementing and executing programs and services that aid in overcoming societal and demographic barriers, allowing our community’s youth to tap into their fullest potential. CanTYD takes pride in being a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to Tamil youth, at zero cost.

CanTYD strives to broaden its horizons beyond youth involvement, by integrating the engagement of parents, schools, teachers and other youth-focused organizations in the community to facilitate youth engagement. CanTYD believes the goal of youth empowerment can be supported and achieved by involvement of the community as a whole.    

That said, CanTYD is proud to announce this year is our 20th anniversary. That’s 20 years of perseverance, empowerment and determination. CanTYD has worked very hard these 20 years to ensure our youth have a safe space in which they can make mistakes, learn and grow into successful citizens.

One way CanTYD leads our youth on the pathway to success is participation in our annual Awards of Excellence. The Awards of Excellence is CanTYD’s fundraiser that we have had for 20 years.

The Awards of Excellence provides an opportunity for everyone to come together and provides a space to showcase talent that exists within the Tamil youth community while having our partners, sponsors, community members, youth, family and friends in attendance to celebrate the successes of our youth. At Awards of Excellence, students from grades 9 to 12 are chosen from over 1,000 applications in a variety of domains including Academic Achievement, Outstanding Community Contribution, Performing or Visual Arts, Athletic Achievement, Young Entrepreneur and Most Improved.

Not only do students receive a recognition award to acknowledge their hard work and contributions but they also receive a scholarship. Thanks to our dedicated and generous sponsors, over the years CanTYD has awarded over $80,000 in scholarships to Tamil youth. This year our Awards of Excellence will be held Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Flato Markham Theatre. Contact us at for tickets.

CanTYD continues to work hard to provide more opportunities to our youth to become who they are truly meant to be — citizens living in society at their fullest potential. Looking back to CanTYD’s evolution from a couple of youth dropping in to keep themselves off the streets into hundreds of youth participating in growing CanTYD as an organization and as a family for two decades is a very proud milestone for us and our community.

Rasika Thangarajah is a summer student at CanTYD, based at 705 Progress Ave. in Scarborough.



About Author