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University of Toronto Tamil Chair grows closer to ground breaking goal

UofT signing agreement with Toronto Tamil Chair Team

The University of Toronto (UofT) has agreed to establish a ground breaking Tamil Chair, after signing an agreement with the Tamil Congress and Tamil Chair Inc. in 2018. The Chair  has received an outpour of community support and will be first of its kind in Canada.

The Toronto Tamil Chair will be community-funded and has garnered over 1,500 supporters to date. The University of Toronto plans to implement the Chair in its Scarborough Campus.

“The partnership between an outstanding global institution like the University of Toronto and the vibrant Tamil community, with its unwavering dedication to the cause, provides an ideal combination, which strongly positions a Chair in Tamil Studies to make a significant impact in Canada and around the world,” stated UofT.

Tamil is more than 2,500 years old, one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world and spoken by more than 80 million people internationally. “The Tamil language is such an integral part of our identity, it is our duty to help preserve and cherish it,” Sivan Ilangko, Canadian Tamil Congress’ President and a director of Tamil Chair Inc, told Tamil Guardian. 

The benefits of the proposed Tamil Chair will include:

(1)  Championing the memorialization preserving Tamil heritage and culture.

(2)  Advancement of Tamil language research and education.

(3)  Focal point for Tamil scholars to find information, have discussions and hold conferences.

(4)  Help those who pursue Tamil higher studies.

“We are in a country which is home to one of the largest Tamil diasporas, with the Canadian government officially recognizing January as Tamil heritage month. We should be very thankful for this opportunity … because this doesn’t belong to any specific individual this belongs to the whole community…the Chair will be a legacy for our children and for generations to come,” Ilangko told Tamil Guardian.

Tamil Chair Inc. and the Canadian Tamil Congress have pledged to raise the necessary funds from the Tamil community, with the groups already raising $1.5 million of the $3 million endowment fund required.  

Toronto Tamil Chair team is “hosting various events with the support of several individuals and organizations and reaching out to various community members to collect donations and pledges to support the Chair,” Ilangko told Tamil Guardian. 

The group has held few musical concerts online and have also spoken at several community groups internationaly, including North American Rise 2020 summit to help garner additional community support and donations. 

Ilangko also told Tamil Guardian that the groups are currently hoping there will be support from the Tamil Nadu government, following similar efforts for the Harvard Tamil Chair’s $6 million goal. Kollywood celebrities such as Kamal Hassan were reportedly among the contributors at the time in 2019. 

Earlier in 2019, D Imman, a famous Kollywood music composer, was announced as an Ambassador for Toronto’s Tamil Chair. 

In a statement, Imman said, “Tamil has been more than a verbal composition as it encapsulates the way of living, tradition, and culture of humankind through its literature. It’s always a bliss and pride to be a Tamilian. While our Tamil land is blessed with so many eminent personalities, who have exhibited the beautiful ethnicity of this language through various forms of arts, I was taken by surprise when I was appointed as ambassador at Toronto’s Tamil chair for honorable Tamil language. It’s a proud moment... I thank every member of the University of Toronto for gifting me with a prestigious emblem that furthermore enhances my devotion towards my Tamil.”

To find out more about the Toronto Tamil Chair and their future planned initiatives, visit their website here.

Donate to the cause here. 

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