Education Minister Stephen Lecce
Yesterday, Ontario's Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced that the Ontario government will be providing $48,950 to create workshops targeting mental health and intergenerational trauma caused by the Tamil Genocide.
The funding was provided to the Canadian Tamil Academy, a not-for-profit organization in Scarborough, Ontario. The program will allow students throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Peel and Ottawa "access to mental health experts and provide them educational discourse on the Tamil Genocide and its long-lasting effects."
The Canadian Tamil Academy, National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT) and Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance (CTYA) will be helping to ensure the funds positively impact Canadians. The groups outlined how they intend to offer free workshops to roughly 3,000 Tamil students on stress management from the COVID-19 pandemic and educate youth on understanding and unpacking the intergenerational trauma from the Tamil Genocide.
Speaking to Tamil Guardian, NCCT outlined that the program fulfills a need, repeatedly outlined by Canadian Tamils, for greater education about the Tamil Genocide. The workshops will also "celebrate the resiliency of Tamils" through spreading awareness and creating communication channels among younger students to find healthy ways to cope with trauma.
Speaking to the press, Education Minister Stephen Lecce highlighted that the funding will provide students information and resources to "address mental health issues, cope with stress, build resilience, and implement self-care strategies while reducing the stigma around mental health in the Tamil community."
"I am incredibly proud of Ontario's Tamil community and continue to stand with their children and families as they heal from the darkness of the Tamil genocide," stated Minister Lecce.
MPP for Scarborough – Rouge Park, Vijay Thanigasalam, and MPP for Markham-Thornhill, Logan Kanapathi, and MPP for Scarborough North, Raymond Cho, and MPP Scarborough – Agincourt, Aris Babikian all joined Minister Lecce to announce the funding.
Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP for Scarborough – Rouge Park
MPP Vijay Thanigaslam addressed the press, stating;
"Intergenerational and historical trauma runs deep in the Tamil community. The Tamil Genocide affects the entire community of people, and it continues to impact generations. This funding will equip Tamil students through workshops and other resources to identify, cope and implement strategies of self-care as well as bring awareness to and breakdown the stigma of mental health in the Tamil community."
When Tamil Guardian asked MPP Thanigaslam about the long-term plans for the provincial funding, he highlighted these workshops were only "the first step." MPP Thanigaslam outlined that this initiative would help policymakers understand what method most effectively supports Tamil Canadians.
MPP Thanigaslam put forth the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act (Bill 104), which legally recognizes and raises awareness about the Tamil Genocide.
Aris Babikian, MPP for Scarborough – Agincourt
MPP Babikian commented on the longlasting effects of being a genocide survivor, stating;
“As the grandson of a survivor of the Armenian genocide, I know what it means to witness and to transmit that trauma from one generation to another. Because as long as the perpetrator does not recognize the heinous crime, that trauma transmits from one generation to another.”
“When you stand up in any circumstance and someone questions your family, your community, your nation, your history and what you have gone through, that creates trauma. This has happened to me and it has happened to every genocide survivor. Thats why it’s important we stand together to fight the denial of a genocide.”
Logan Kanapathi, MPP for Markham-Thornhill
MPP Logan Kanapathi explained the need for these mental health resources, stating;
"As someone who has personally experienced the atrocities committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka against Tamil civilians, I am truly honoured that the Province of Ontario recognizes the potential mental health issues of our Canadian Tamil students. As we know, mental health begins early in one's life and given the brutality during the civil war in Sri Lanka for over 25 years, families have since suffered in silence, and in return, affecting future Canadian Tamil generations. Many of whom are still traumatized to this day, here in Ontario. This provincial funding to the Canadian Tamil Academy will assist many fellow Canadian Tamils struggling with their mental illness and addictions and help empower future generations here in Ontario connect with their culture, language and past."
Siva Sivanathan, Thurairajah, Director of the Canadian Tamil Academy (CTA)
Siva Sivanathan, Director of the Canadian Tamil Academy, also addressed the media, stating;
"We thank the government of Ontario for providing this funding for this especially needed cause."
"The Canadian Tamil Academy has been in operation for the last 30 years, educating youth on language and the fine arts and creating an intelligent and educated community... There are approximately 15,000 students that have studied here throughout the years"
Raymond Cho, MPP for Scarborough North,
MPP Raymond Cho also adressed the Media, stating;
“This grant strengthens our government’s commitment to Tamil communities in Scarborough and across Ontario. Following our governments full support in passing the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act last May.”
The funding is part of the "Priorities and Partnerships Funding COVID-19 Equity Supports," which funds various initiatives that help promote a positive and supportive school climate, support healthy relationships, and address bullying and cyberbullying.