Canadian Tamil Congress Celebrates 9th Annual Thai Pongal Dinner
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) 9th annual Pongal Dinner was celebrated on January 16th, 2016 at the Hilton Suites in Markham. Attended by approximately 1000 people, the event showcased Tamil achievements, arts and culture and highlighted CTC’s impressive achievements in 2015, including the highly successful first ever Tamil Street Festival (Tamil Fest).
The dinner was attended by several politicians, public officials and community leaders including Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Stephane Dion, Premier of Ontario Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Federal Ministers John McCallum, Dr. Jane Philpot and Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Ontario New Democratic party leader Andrea Howarth, Stouffville Mayor Justin Altman, Members of Canadian Parliament including Gary Anandasangaree from Scarborough-Rouge Park, Member of Provincial Parliament, many municipal councillors, York Region Police Chief Eric Jolliffe, professionals, members of law enforcement, as well as media, business and community leaders.
Greetings from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Ontario PC Party leader, Ontario NDP leader and the City of Stouffville were received. Hon. Stephane Dion recognized the growth within the Tamil community, “Canada is an example for countries like Sri Lanka- how we find the strength through our diversity and differences.” Premier Wynn indicated that the province of Ontario has benefited from the Tamil community and Mayor of Toronto echoed the Premier and commended on the parenting skills within the community.
Mr. Raj Thavaratnasingham, president of CTC, spoke about CTC’s international advocacy work and its role in the passage of the UNHRC resolution on October 1, 2015, which established a consensus resolution towards achieving truth, justice, reparations, and guarantee of non recurrence in Sri Lanka. He noted, “while we are not happy with the pace at which the changes are taking place, we appreciate the efforts being made to steer the country in the right direction.” He also expressed gratitude towards the Tamil National Alliance, the major Tamil party, for their leadership in working towards achieving peace for our people.
As in the past, three awards were presented. This year’s “Service Excellence Award” was awarded to Yoganathan Ratheesan, President, CEO and co-founder of Lebara Group. The award recognizes an organization or individual’s compassion, dedication and support to community building efforts. This award also recognizes the organization’s long-term support, commitment and significant contribution to the Tamil community at large.
The Leaders for Change Award was presented to Mr. John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour council for his involvement with the organization “Canadian Concerned about Sri Lanka” in 2009. This award honours the unique contribution of an individual who through his or her exceptional vision, perseverance and commitment has redefined or strengthened the need for change in our society. In his acceptance speech, he thanked the Tamil community for its support towards labour movements.
The Living Hero award was presented to the Hon. Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the opposition leader in Sri Lanka. The award recognizes the work of heroic individuals for their selfless work in bettering the lives of others. Mr. Sampanthan, who started his political career in 1956, is a person of deep political understanding and immense integrity and has tirelessly worked for his people and serves as leader of the TNA. Mr. Sampanthan through a video acceptance spoke of the support provided by CTC to Tamils in Sri Lanka. Mr. M. A. Sumanthiran, MP from Sri Lanka, accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Sampanthan.
As in the past 6 years, in 2016 CTC once again raised money through its annual walk-a-thon. After raising close to $300,000 for six Canadian charities in the past, in 2015, CTC turned its attention to a cause in Sri Lanka. The $110,000 raised went towards providing basic housing for 41 war widowed families. A ceremonial cheque was presented at the event.
The event also included captivating performances by the students of Niro Dance Creations and by the youth members of Centre for Leadership and Innovation (CFLI).
An event of this magnitude is financially successful only with the sponsorship and support of major sponsors, table sponsors, advertisers and well-wishers. The Canadian Tamil Congress expresses its sincere appreciation to our sponsors, volunteers, members and friends for their generous support, and encourages the ongoing support from our community supporters. CTC would also like to thank the presence of Global Tamil Forum members from Australia, the USA, the UK, and the GTF President, Father S.J. Emanuel, from Germany.
CTC official dinner pictures:
CTC in Rewind 2015 VIDEO:
CTC President’s Address at Annual Dinner 2016
Hon. Stephane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada at CTC Annual Dinner 2016
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario address at CTC Annual Dinner 2016
Mayor of Toronto John Tory’s address at CTC Annual Dinner 2016
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran’s Speech at CTC Annual Dinner 2016
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath address at CTC Annual Dinner 2016
TNA Leader and Sri Lankan Opposition leader Hon. R. Sampanthan’s speech accepting the Living Hero Award