Toronto Tamils raising funds to aid displaced at home

By 
  • May 26, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - As 10,000 Tamils gathered on University Avenue to mourn their unknown dead with a candlelit vigil, the Tamil Catholic Community of Toronto swung into action to launch a campaign to raise $100,000 to help hundreds of thousands of internally displaced refugees scattered in government-run "welfare centres. "At the same time the Canadian Jesuits International have launched their own campaign to raise $100,000 for Tamil refugees. And the Canadian Council of Churches is demanding that Canada pressure Sri Lanka to allow open and free access to refugee camps for aid workers and the press.

Jude Aloysius of the Tamil Catholic Community believes all kinds of Canadians will get behind efforts to help refugees in Sri Lanka.

"This is outside the political forum," Aloysius said. "Canadians are very much in tune and they are very passionate about helping people who are in need."


The gathering of about 10,000 Tamils, most dressed in black, outside Queen's Park May 22 was different from previous protests in Toronto, said Aloysius.

"The people who were there were mostly people who have actually lost family members back in Sri Lanka," he said. "That's why you felt a very sober mood. If you looked at the people you would have seen a lot of people crying."

The new president of the Canadian Council of Churches , Rev. Bruce Adema, has asked the Canadian government to press Sri Lanka to "protect the civil rights and physical integrity of the Tamil community."

"In view of current reports of wide scale deaths of Tamil civilians, including women and children, the continued exclusion of the independent press and the catastrophic loss of human life in Sri Lanka, we call on the Government of Canada to appeal to all sides in the conflict to immediately ensure access and safety to the press and humanitarian relief organizations," Adema wrote in a May 19 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Meanwhile the Jesuit Refugee Services is struggling to deliver basic school supplies, shelter, cooked food, dry rations and kitchen utensils in four separate camps, plus a number of hospitals. The Jesuit fundraising campaign will help the Jesuits continue work they've been doing in the camps since 1996.

At press time the Canadian Jesuits International were planning to launch their campaign online at www.canadianjesuitsinternational.ca . The web site includes a secure system of online donations. Phone-in donations can be made at 1-800-448-2148.

The Tamil Catholic Community of Toronto has launched a special web site for its appeal at www.canadiantamilaid.com . Toronto's Catholic Tamils will send aid money to the Caritas network in Sri Lanka. Donations can be made at any Toronto Canada Trust directly into an account named Canadian Tamil Aid with the account number 330-5226400. Donations can be made by phone at (416) 569-5833.

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