Community

SLWB

Sri Lankans without Borders

We are a grassroots network of students, academies, professionals and community activists committed to promoting productive intercommunal dialogue and solidarity. We aim to inspire, provoke and facilitate candid conversation across boundaries, toward meaningful change and permanent peace.

Responding to growing frustration amongst younger Canadian-Sri Lankans over the perennial state of emergency, deteriorating human rights situation, and increasing threat to free media and civil society within Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the civil conflict, we felt that without frank and honest conversation, there would be no reconciliation; generations of Sinhalese-and Tamil-Canadians will continue to be caught up in cycles of learned prejudice and senseless violence. We felt that a fresh platform is needed to rethink Tamil-Sinhala relations in Canada.

Conceived organically on social networking sites and nourished by coffee-shop conversations, eight of us decided to launch a pioneering, grassroots initiative firmly grounded in our shared Canadian identity. Our concerns about the Sri Lankan diaspora community will be guided, we agreed, by a quintessentially Canada-first approach.

This larger project grew out of our first initiative which sought to bring together fifty Sri Lankan Canadian young professionals to a networking luncheon where they could build their professional networks while creating a safe space for dialogue on the value of inter-communal solidarity in Canada. We also invited mentors from the Jewish-and Indo-Canadian communities so that mentees could learn from the successes of those communities in Canada.

We asked mentors and mentees to examine the questions of identity politics, and discuss policy alternatives for improving access to higher education, employment, and social services for the community, as well as strategies for effectively engaging different levels of the Canadian government on these issues.

Sri Lankans without Borders is a response to the concerns and challenges posed by our inaugural event. We have since undertaken similar events to bring people and communities together. This past summer, we organised a tree planting event, dubbed Roots for Reconciliation, which provided an occasion for some 20 younger Sri Lankan Canadians to work with each other to improve their shared community space in a tangible, environmentally responsible manner. Moreover, we actively seek out opportunities for collaborative efforts that address reconciliatory measures both in Canada and Sri Lanka. Some of our volunteers are multiply involved other community projects, for example, the current South Asian Global Citizenship Project organised by the Mosaic Institute, Roadmap 2010 and Sri Lankan-Canadian Women’s Group.

Sri Lankans without Borders is a series of Canadian initiatives that are predicated on community engagement and voluntarism, and our conversations traverse myriad boundaries.  For more information please contact: info@srilankanswithoutborders.ca

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