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Beach at St. Shott's, Newfoundland, June 9, 2007. Image by Peter Macdonald, via Flickr.

"Rock Against Racism" Poster, Anti-Racist Toronto, 1993. Courtesy of Alternative Toronto.

  • Dangers in a New Place

    Sivarajah Vinasithamby

    Even when Tamil refugees found supportive workplaces, racism and xenophobia was still an issue navigating their new lives in Toronto. Sivarajah Vinasithamby was a math teacher in Sri Lanka, but when he arrived in Canada he took a job as a dishwasher to help support his wife and three children. His co-workers at the Tasty Restaurant on Clinton St. at Bloor St. W described him as a model worker. On June 6, 1993, Vinasithamby was attacked by a young neo-Nazi leaving a white supremacist rock concert. Vinasithamby was taking out the trash behind the restaurant.

    Vinasithamby was left partially paralyzed by the attack, and relied heavily on his extended family and the community to help support him as well as his wife and three children. The attack also destroyed his hopes of returning to school so he could teach again. The attacker was eventually sentenced to four years for aggravated assault. This was one in a series of attacks on Tamil people in the city that June, prompting Tamil activists and community organizations such as the Tamil Eelam Society of Canada to call for more action to address racism against Tamils. 

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