For a community healing with trauma, acknowledgement and recognition is an important step in moving forward and healing. When various school boards, including Peel District School Board, shared their support to the Tamil community by acknowledging May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, and recognizing the pain and trauma felt by the Tamil community, it was reassuring for those who were suffering. On social media, many people, including youth, expressed their gratitude for the support. Many Tamil Canadians expressed how important it was to have their school boards and various level of government acknowledge their pain.
I was deeply disappointed to hear the recent clarification of the show of support. We must never shy away from naming atrocities for what they are. Many youth who expressed that the acknowledgment was very important and meant a great deal now feel hurt and let down. There are tens of thousands of Tamil students studying within Peel District School Board and many staff members with Tamil background are employed within the board as well. I urge the Peel District School Board to understand the pain and sufferings of these people.
I want to remind you of the famous quote by Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
This is why Bill 104 – Tamil Genocide Education Week Act is even more imperative. It is through education that we can further recognize what is happening and help our students and community heal. It is important for many reasons to acknowledge publicly that the killings and all aspects of the Tamil genocide constitute a heinous act. Not only does this acknowledgement honour the lives that were lost, but it gives a sense of hope to those who have suffered since it represents the first step to healing and reconciliation. Most importantly, by educating about the Tamil genocide, it affirms our collective desire to maintain awareness of crimes against humanity and our collective responsibility to prevent such crimes from happening again.
MPP Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough—Rouge Park)