[Report Updated: March 14 2012 @ 1:00 pm – Forum Pictures Below]
Friday evening, March the 2nd 2012 a discussion forum was organized by the Canadian South Asians for Peace & Unity in Toronto, Ontario. The discussion theme was based on Sri Lanka and specifically about UN Hindering Sri Lanka’s Peace, Stability, Reconciliation & Related Current African Experience. Many organizations and community leaders young and old took a seat in the audience anticipating a productive night. This amounted to more than 15 organizations that had interacted with the motherland in the provision of their services and assistance to charitable projects and humanitarian aspirations to provide more clear reviews of the representatives of such activities and visions for the future of the island. In essence due to the organizing of this much needed long awaited forum several key reflective attributes can be taken into account and documented in the following order;
Emphasis on the importance and necessary role of the Embassy of the country in the presence of its representative esteemed Sri Lankan Consul General in Toronto, Mr. Karunaratne Paranavithana’s modesty and openness to all ethnic members and guests present was highly evident that night.
It is important to record such meeting, full sound and a picture of security considerations, documentation and intellectual;
- Structured dialogue and provided opportunities to speak out without speaking off subject and the availability of speaking for each participant.
- Some interns in such forums and seminars showed up to thwart everyone, which calls for a mechanism purpose that creates chaos and intimidation towards the participants.
- The presence and strong participation of professors, scientists, intellectuals, businessmen and experienced, students, housewives and even children of Sri Lanka, South Asia, Africa, Caribbean and Canada assisted the assembly and the thought of power and unity along with fruitful requests and proposals to meet and serve the nation, in a comprehensive review, “a way forwards for Sri Lanka in a South Asian context”.
- This type of meeting increased the social ties between families and all shades of the Sri Lankan society, some public figures were invited to gather and to participate in increasing the coherence, instead of seclusion and isolation on ourselves.
- Some ideas that can be helpful was the notion of banking vital information. For example a data bank that collects all ideas and suggestions presented by a Canadian Sri Lankan or a non Sri Lankan that can be very resourceful and useful for the nation and the people with the current reconciliation and healing process in Sri Lanka.
- Open call for the collection of all the bodies and organizations to meet with a large annual support of the country and to link expatriate and exchange views on an easy way to support our country through the ideas and financial contributions and in donation of books, scholorships, medicines, clothes and guarantees for those who are unable to afford in Sri Lanka and in South Asia.
The following statement made by an alumni echoed in everyones ears and can be awarded as the highlight of the night. Although he simply showed no intrest in such awards or recognition he spoke from his heart to the people and it was no other than the Current Chair, Pat Perera of Canada SLSAA who took the platform and corrected the misinterpretations of Sri Lanka’s violent history clarifying the bias labels given by media that saw many generations both young and old from all walks of life who eneded up laying down their lives in vain without just cause, simply as a result of an inevitable, “Post colonial conflict and nothing more, if this rationale is understood by Sri Lankan Diaspora, pundits and so called critics the current dilemma and Teledrama would unfold and can be easily archived away with a do not touch label, if this occurs a dawn of a new enlightening future for the populace of Lankadeepa awaits” he stated.
- Sri Laka has a long history that spans thousands of years and a strategic location and distinctive expertise in many fields and many natural resources. But the enemies of success are in every country in the world but it is essential that we listen to each other and live with each others’ disagreements in some opinions, and accept the many different views in certain ideals in respect to religious, political, leanings and ethnic differences made the forum a sustaining one for the future;
- I have been witnessed to the intervention of two young men in the prime of life, trying to disrupt the meeting, I was inviting them to sit and wait for their role, but they were the worst model in the way of dialogue and reactions and this is evident in the recordings of the meeting, audience and guests remained tolerant of the menace that were finally escorted out without incident.
- Guest Speakers present left a lasting impression not only on me but also sent a very powerful message to the audience to unite through, “peace, unity and one love”. All speakers spoke highly of Sri Lanka, recent progressive visits to the country, its healing process, SL Government’s constructive efforts, and requested and suggested everyone to unite and work together for a common mandate for a way forward. Its noteworthy to mention that, Marlene Gallyot (2011 Federal Candidate Rouge River), Leroy King (Freedom Times Magazine), Prof. Wallo Judha (Ryerson University African Studies), Dewitt Lee (2010 Mayoral Candidate), Charlie Bobus (Jamaican International Musician) all played a mjor role in making our forum a success.
- Many organizations that were present at the forum condemned the United Nations resolution that if passed would interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, organizations like SLUNA, Socialist Left Alliance of Canada, Global Sri Lankan Forum, Friends of Canada Sri Lanka, Several Student organizations as well as Tamil and Sinhala community members were highly critical of the resolution as it would directly hamper the peace, unity, stability and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.
I was honored as one of the forum moderators for the event and spoke to the audience with some of my views and took advantage of the many comments from the audience or via telephone one esteemed professors of this assembly, and was much impressed by a single word uttered by summarizing what he wants from everyone under the title of, “one love”.
It is not possible in the whole piece but to thank everyone who gave me the opportunity to attend and participate in any act or idea. I hope all the success, growth and prosperity and progress to Sri Lanka. It was a great honour to me and my two daughters, Nour Salem (10th grader, Ecole Secondaire Etienne-Brule) and Zena Salem (9th grader, Ecole Secondaire Etienne-Brule) to participate and assist in such important discussion. We enjoyed it very much and I personally learned and earned many ideas and information that could not have been thought of before or assisted me in preparing for the forum on Sri Lanka. My two daughters as well, it was a great experience for them. They had discovered and understood many ideas and point of views that had been said by moderate Sri Lankans and non Sri Lankans.
It was a great honor, I would like to kindly thank each and one of you for the honorable invitation to get us between the great Sri Lankan community, various Sri Lankan organizations, student organizations, African and Caribbean communities enabling us to hold a successful forum that touched the current Sri Lankan situation and the related experience faced by the rest of the developing world.
Forum Report By: Dr. Hesham Salem – Executive Research Coordinator
Forum Board of Directors:
G. Siva B.A – Sr. Research Analyst
D. Singh B.S.C – Forum Coordinator
J. K Banwait B.S.C – Events Coordinator
A. Khan M.A – Outreach Communications
Nour Salem – Jr. Research Assistant (Uni. Candidate)
Zena Salem – Jr. Research Assistant (Uni. Candidate)
PICTURES FROM THE FORUM: