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New trees living memorial to genocide victims

As part of the activities marking Tamil Genocide Remembrance Month, Tamil youths in Canada organised a tree planting event in Downsview Park, Toronto, on Sunday May 22.

The planting of numerous trees to commemorate the victims of the peak in May 2009 of Sri Lanka’s genocide, was organised by the Tamil Youth Organization (TYO-Canada) in partnership with Evergreen, a not-for-profit environmental organization.

“The trees we planted will stand in future as a living memorial to the countless Tamils who were systematically murdered by the Sri Lankan government,” said TYO member Thurga Vijayapavan.

The planting of trees carried other significance, she said.

"We have to remember our homeland’s environment has been greatly damaged by Sri Lanka’s offensives. Sri Lanka used chemical weapons and other unlawful munitions, cut down vast numbers of trees to build bases, and destroyed swathes of vegetation for its military zones.”

Downsview Park is also symbolic for the Canadian Tamils as it hosted Pongu Thamil events in the past, she said.

“This [tree planting event] also sends a message to our fellow Canadians that Tamil youth are also playing a vital role in the issues of concern for this country’s citizens such as, in this case, environmental issues."

Downsview Park is the largest urban park in Canada. Its design and operation are guided by a set of five core values - sustainability, stewardship, play, legacy and beauty.

The NGO Evergreen seeks to makes cities more livable and to empower Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, deepening the connection between people and nature.