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The story behind the Quebec’s Tamil Heritage Month stamp

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I had the greatest honour to design Quebec’s Tamil Heritage Month stamp for 2020.

Designing is something I love to do and I am so grateful that it is a huge part of my life. As someone who is Tamil, when I was asked to design a stamp that represented my culture and heritage, I did not think twice.

When coming up with this design, myself and a friend of mine had sat down and brainstormed on places and things that truly represented our Tamil culture and heritage. As there are so many elements we could choose from, there was only so much we could fit on a small sized stamp so we had to narrow it down and chose the right elements. We gathered as much information as we could find on what parts of our Tamil heritage really represented who we are as Tamils and worked on really bringing those elements to life in the design. Through this stamp we wanted to represent the growth of all Tamils and how far w have come as a community.

The stamp’s central tenant is the palmyra tree, a common sight in Tamil regions around the world greatly respected for its versatility and resiliency. Its roots are being nourished by the three symbols of the three ancient Tamil dynasties: Cholas, Pandya’s, and Cheras. The seeds and fruit of the tree are the art, architecture, literature, and a rich heritage which, in the design of the stamp, are found surrounding the tree.

In addition to these elements, we knew this stamp needed to represent the colour and brightness of the Tamil community, which is why I decided to create a background filled with various colours. I also incorporated some of our Tamil letters in the background of this stamp as the Tamil language and literature is something so rich and an important part of our heritage. There is a classic Tamil text called the Tirukkural. This text is divided into three books, each with truthful teachings on virtue, wealth and love. These works shine light on ethics and morality.

On April 14th 1961, the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi released the pictured stamp in protest of the Sri Lankan governments “Sinhala Only” policy. This stamp was used as a vehicle to express the frustrations of the Tamil people and their legitimate claims to speak and communicate in Tamil. The Quebec Tamil Heritage stamp is a tribute to the perseverance of Tamil identity. An emblem recognized by Canada and Quebec, a place where Tamils are free, proudly, to speak and celebrate their heritage as Tamil Quebecers and Tamil Canadians.

Canada has provided refugee and opportunities in the early 80’s. Tamils that would have been orphans of war and cultural genocide were given an opportunity to flourish. We have since grown as Tamil Canadians and are proud to be raised in a country that is diverse and accepting of different races, ethnicities and cultures. Tamils being recognized in Canada is a huge step in that we haven’t even been recognized in our own homelands but we have been here. It’s truly something to be so proud of and it is in the hands of the existing young generations and generations to come, to keep our heritage alive and allow for Tamils to continue to be recognized in the country that we live in. These types of moments are the greatest opportunities for us to celebrate and share our culture and heritage with our neighbours.