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Canada's York Uni introduces landmark Tamil studies award

Canada's York University has established the country's first ever scholarship graduate award in Tamil studies last month.

The N. Sivalingam Award in Tamil Studies was founded by the university's alumni couple, Harini Sivalingam and Gary Anandasangaree, in memory of Ms Sivalingam's father.

The Sivalingam award is intended to encourage and promote research on Tamil language, history, culture, society or the Tamil diaspora, the university said.

N Sivalingam (Photo: York University)

“When my sister and I were growing up in Toronto, my father encouraged us to take Tamil language classes, classical dance and music classes, and we always talked about what was going on back home,” said Ms Sivalingam.

“He wanted to make sure that we had a strong sense of identity and that we knew where we came from. That was infused in our everyday life during our childhood.”

According to the university, the award was matched by York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies through the Graduate Support Matching Program.

Philip Kelly, director of the York Centre for Asian Research, said the scholarship was a generous gift to support future students, and an important milestone in the development of Tamil studies at the university.

Mr Kelly expressed hope that the annual award, which will provide approximately Ca$5,000 to assist a graduate student undertaking such research, will eventually lead to a wide range of other initiatives such as courses, research projects, a lecture series and an endowed chair.

“We hope it will mark York as an institution that takes Tamil studies seriously. The award encourages students to consider research topics in the field of Tamil studies. It also highlights the diversity of our community and the depth of Asia-focused research and teaching at York,” he said.

Mr Sivalingam came to Toronto in 1966 and dedicated his life to promoting Tamil culture and language in Canada, the article said.

He co-founded the Tamil Eelam Society of Canada to bring the Tamil community together, and to provide opportunities and services to newcomers and immigrants from the Tamil community and other cultures.