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Tamil Canadians

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Title: Tamil Canadians  
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Subject: Scarborough, Ontario, Crescent Town, Sri Lankan Tamil people, Sri Lankan Canadians
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Tamil Canadians

Tamil Canadian
Total population
138,675 [1]
Regions with significant populations
Southern Ontario, Greater Montreal, Lower Mainland, Calgary-Edmonton Corridor
Tamil, Canadian English, Canadian French
Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Asian Indians, Indo-Canadians

Tamil Canadian or Canadian Tamils are Canadians of Tamil ethnic origins mostly from India and Sri Lanka. It is estimated that the Tamil diaspora in Canada is around 200,000.[2] From a population of fewer than 150 Tamils in 1983, it has become one of the largest visible minority population groups within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In the 1991 census, Tamils were the fastest-growing ethnic group in Metropolitan Toronto. Canada's Tamil population is thought to constitute the largest Sri Lankan diaspora in the world with Toronto being considered as "the city with the largest number of Sri Lankan Tamils in the world".[3][4][5]


With the outbreak of riots and eventual civil war in Sri Lanka in 1983, Tamil migration to Canada increased significantly. In 2000, Sri Lanka was the sixth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, sending 5,841 people or 2.57% of Canada's immigrant total. Between 1991 and 2001, Sri Lanka was the fifth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, after China, India, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.[4]

Between 2001 and 2010 Sri Lanka's rank dropped to 17 in the list of immigrant source countries to Canada. Well behind the major source countries China (327,317), India (277,819) and Philippines (191,121).[6] In 2010 immigrants from Sri Lanka consisted of only 1.4% of Canada's immigrant total of 280,681.

Most permanent residents from Sri Lanka came as either independent immigrants or family class sponsored immigrants.

Refugee claimants are an independent category of Tamils from Sri Lanka who arrived in Canada and are claiming protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. After 2001 there have been no Government of Canada or private sponsored Tamil refugees to Canada. There are 141,074 UNHCR recognized Tamil refugees in non-signatory countries. There are a total of 589,639 refugees from Sri Lanka in 2011 who have registered with the UNHCR in non-signatory countries.[7]

Year[8] Permanent Residents Refugee Claimants Government/Private
Sponsored Refugees
1999 4,728 2,802 3
2000 5,849 2,898 7
2001 5,520 2,824 0
2002 4,968 1,589 0
2003 4,448 1,239 0
2004 4,135 1,134 0
2005 4,690 854 0
2006 4,490 862 0
2007 3,934 779 0
2008 4,509 1,013 0
2009 4,269 2,758 0
2010 4,181 2,778 0


A community directory of businesses and services for this community, Thamilar Mathiyil (Amidst Tamils), has been published since 1990 and has grown to several hundred pages in length. There are ten weekly Tamil language newspapers, four Tamil language radio stations, and three cinemas that show Tamil language films that are produced in Tamil Nadu and in Canada. Toronto is also home to the largest Tamil video and music stores in the world. There are also two television stations in Tamil serving the community.[3] The Monsoon Journal and the Tamil Mirror are popular English language papers created and targeted at Tamils. Two local Tamil Television channels; TVI and Tamil One, broadcast a 24 hour service in Tamil. Many films are produced by Tamils based in Toronto are called as Tamil Canadian cinema. There are many forms of the medium within the Tamil Community.

Social and political activity

The Tamil Canadian community has social and political organizations such as the Canadian Tamil Congress, which works as a community and lobby group to communicate on behalf of Tamil Canadians at the municipal, provincial, federal, and international levels. The Canadian Tamil Congress is largest of these organizations with 11 chapters in the country. The smaller organizations are geared towards organizing kin and village groups from Sri Lanka, as well as supporting various political parties such as the Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party and Conservative Party of Canada. Tamil candidates have participated in the political process representing various parties at municipal, provincial and federal level. In 2011, Rathika Sitsabaiesan was elected as the first Tamil-Canadian Member of Parliament, as a New Democrat in Scarborough-Rouge River. Previously, Logan Kanapathi was the first Tamil Canadian candidate to win election to large municipal government.[3][5][9][10] He currently serves his second term as Ward 7 councilor in the town of Markham. Many Hindu Temples have been built by the community to cater to its religious needs. Hindu Youth Network, an organization founded by Eelam Tamils, is currently the largest Hindu youth movement in Canada with thousands of Hindu Tamil students and over 80% of the Hindu student groups in the country under its umbrella.[11] There are also Christian churches that cater particularly to the Tamil community in Canada.[12]

Tamil Canadians have run multiple campaigns encouraging the donation of blood to the Canadian Blood Services. The community also undertook a recent campaign to help SickKids Hospital, which treats 100,000 children every year. These campaigns were organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress, with the support of many social and community organizations. Some campaigns and non-profit charities in the Canadian Tamil community have also been linked to the funding of the LTTE organization [13]

Sports and literature

Canada has attracted a number of internationally renowned writers from Sri Lanka, including Shyam Selvadurai. Despite his family's relative privilege and urban base, his family left Sri Lanka because of the 1983 riots. Canadian Tamils have also contributed to the sports fields such as the formerly ranked Canadian tennis player Sonya Jeyaseelan and cricketer Sanjayan Thuraisingam. Pradeeban Peter-Paul a Tamil Canadian table tennis player has been part of the Canadian National Team for the past 12 years. He was one of two Canadians who qualified to represent Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.[14] Soccer and cricket are two of the main sports played by the Tamil population in Canada. Events like the Tamil Eelam Challenge Cup for both soccer and cricket is held every year for the youth and the adults.


The former city of Scarborough in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is home to a large population of Tamils, mainly of Sri Lankan origin. Scarborough is known to be a little Jaffna. Canada's first Federal Government MP of Tamil origin: Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka), represents the riding of Scarborough-Rouge River.[15][16]

Scarborough Tamil Dialect

Frequent use of the word "enna" ("என்ன"; pronounced as 'eney' or 'eneh') to emphasize statements is the characteristic of the Scarborough Tamil dialect. Apart from that, the Scarborough Tamil dialect has the base of Jaffna Tamil superimposed with Canadian English as well as words borrowed from the popular cultural influence of South Indian Tamil films.

Examples: எங்களின்ர பிள்ளையளுக்கு கிறீஸ்மஸ் கொலிடேய்ஸ் எண்டால் ஹெப்பிதான்... என்ன?

நாங்கள் நல்லாய் செலவழிச்சுத்தான் பார்ர்ட்டி வைக்கிறது... என்ன!

See also


External links

  • Canadian Tamil Business Directory
  • TAMIL STAR FM - Tamil Radio in Canada
  • Tamil Canadian Inside
  • Alberta Tamils Society
  • Edmonton Tamil Forum
  • Tamils in Canada from Ravindiran Vaitheespara, The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples
  • Hindu Youth Network - Tamil Hindu youth movement in Canada
  • Canadian Multicultural Radio-Online
  • Canadian Tamil Radio
  • Young Tamils searching for roots, peace
  • Canadian Tamil Congress

Template:People of Canada Template:Tamil Diaspora

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