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Canada- Ontario Parliament proclaimed the seven-day period in each year ending on May 18 as Tamil Genocide Education Week

Canada- Ontario Parliament proclaimed the seven-day period in each year ending on May 18 as Tamil Genocide Education Week

Ontario on May 6 became one of the first jurisdictions in the world to recognize a genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka as a Scarborough MPP’s private bill passed third reading in the legislature.

Bill 104, the Tamil Genocide Education Week Act, establishes seven days each year, May 11 to 18, during which Ontarians “are encouraged to educate themselves about, and to maintain their awareness of, the Tamil genocide and other genocides that have occurred in world history.”

On Twitter, Scarborough-Rouge Park MPP Vijay Thanigasalam called the passage of his bill “a historic event for Tamil people in Ontario and across the world.”

The Progressive Conservative MPP - who as a child fled the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka his bill describes as genocide against its Tamil population – said Ontario is the first government worldwide to pass such a law.

Sri Lankan-Canadians objected to the word “genocide” – a word Canada and the United Nations have not applied to the conflict, which ended with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on May 18, 2009 – and urged MPPs not to pass the bill, but Tamil-Canadian groups supported it.

Having waited since passing the second reading in 2019, Bill 104 appeared at the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills on May 5. It was put to a third legislature vote the next day.

“Ontario is sending a loud and clear message, as the first jurisdiction to acknowledge the Tamil Genocide,” said Sinthughan Shanmugalingam, vice president of campaigns for the Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance, a group Shanmugalingam said lobbied for Bill 104’s passage through meetings with politicians and email and letter campaigns since 2019.

“With the passing of this Bill, Tamils can begin the healing process, and encourage Ontarians to learn about the Tamil genocide, and other genocides that have taken place around the world.”