Statement by the Prime Minister on Thai Pongal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

January 14, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Thai Pongal:

“This week, the Tamil community in Canada and around the world will celebrate Thai Pongal.”

“During the four-day festival, family and friends usually gather to give thanks for the year’s bountiful harvest and share Pongal, a sweet rice pudding. While things will be different this year as we continue to follow public health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19, I know people will still find new ways to bring to life the values of peace and community at the centre of this festival.”

“January also marks Tamil Heritage Month in Canada. This month, we recognize Tamil Canadians’ contributions to building a better, fairer, and more inclusive country. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the history, resiliency, and strength of the vibrant Tamil community in Canada and around the world. Recently, we saw Tamil-Canadians from coast to coast to coast come together in solidarity to condemn the destruction of the Mullivaikkal memorial at the University of Jaffna, in Sri Lanka, and call for its reinstatement. It is a reminder for all of us that commemoration is essential for reconciliation.”

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I offer our wishes for peace and good health to everyone marking Thai Pongal, here in Canada and around the world.”

“Iniya Thai Pongal Nalvazhthukkal.”

January Tamil Heritage Month 
(Photo credit, Twitter)
A unanimous decision was made at the House of Commons, Canada declaring the month of January as Tamil Heritage Month. The Tamil Heritage month will “recognize the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Tamil language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Tamil heritage for future generations.”  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to mark the fifth anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:

“Five years ago today, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report. Established on June 1, 2008, the Commission worked to uncover the truth in one of the darkest and most painful chapters in Canadian history – the Indian Residential Schools system – and the tragic legacy that continues today.

“The report is an appeal to mobilize all orders of government, as well as organizations and individuals, to make concrete changes in Canadian society. It lists 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation in Canada.

“The Government of Canada has accepted its responsibilities and its failings, which is why it offered an apology to former students, and has taken important steps to fully implement the Commission’s recommendations. We have worked across all federal government organizations and with our partners so that 80 percent of the Calls to Action implicating the Government of Canada are now completed or well underway. This includes introducing legislation to allow for the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to move forward on the shared path of reconciliation, as well as passing the Indigenous Languages Act to support the revitalization, maintaining, and strengthening of Indigenous languages in Canada.

“We recently announced over $542 million in funding over five years to advance First Nations, Inuit, and Métis engagement to co-develop the implementation of the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, and to assist Indigenous communities and groups in building the capacity to establish their own child and family services systems. This funding is in addition to the $3 billion that we have already invested, starting in 2019, to continue delivering and improving the government’s funding support for First Nations child and family services.

“We are implementing Jordan’s Principle to make sure all First Nations children in Canada can access the products, services, and supports they need, when they need them. In 2019, we implemented a new policy and funding approach for funding First Nations education on reserve – co-developed with First Nations representatives – to transform First Nations education funding to be more directly comparable to provincial education systems. The new approach also provides full-day kindergarten on reserve for children ages four and five, and $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture. We are also working with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, to respond to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Calls for Justice, to develop a national action plan to end the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

“We recognize that there is still much more work to do. We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provinces, and territories to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. As we outlined in the Speech from the Throne, the government is committed to not just moving forward, but moving faster, on ending the unacceptable injustices that too many Canadians still face. That includes addressing systemic inequalities in the criminal justice system, closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, and legislating First Nations policing as an essential service.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite all Canadians to honour the courage of the former students and families who came forward to share their stories of pain and losses, and to reflect on how we must all play our role in the implementation of the Calls to Action and in our journey of reconciliation.”

Prime Minister’s remarks for the Global Conference for Media Freedom
November 16, 2020
Ottawa, Ontario

Hello everyone. Thank you for being with us today for the second Global Conference for Media Freedom.

I am pleased to be here with you, along with Canada’s outstanding Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, and Minister Morwaeng of Botswana, who will be co-chairing today’s conference. At the last global conference in London a year and a half ago, we would never have known the challenges that 2020 would bring. But what we already knew was that press freedom would be part of the solution.

In the last few months, we have seen how free, open debate – based on facts – is the only way forward. Not only is press freedom a cornerstone of democracy – it’s a fundamental building block of strong, healthy societies. When journalists can do their jobs, when citizens can get good, reliable information – everyone does better. Now, that’s how things should be. But as you all know, all too often that’s not how things are. Today, we see citizens calling for change – from Hong Kong to Belarus – only to have the authorities attack the freedom of the press.

We see journalists casting light on human rights abuses and on this pandemic – people like Kyaw Soe Oo, Wa Lone, and Maria Ressa – only to face repression and violence. It is never acceptable for a journalist to be attacked for doing their job. It is never acceptable for a reporter to be thrown in jail for interviewing a peaceful protester. And it is never acceptable for anyone, anywhere, to have their freedom of expression denied. A crackdown on the media puts democracy in danger. It puts lives in danger. So when we see it happening, we can’t turn away. We can’t wait for someone else to act. After all, a free, independent press doesn’t happen by itself. It happens because as citizens, we know it is vital to our shared future – and so we accept nothing less. Canada will always stand up for freedom of the press, just as we will always stand up for freedom of expression.

At home in Canada, we have taken the lead by investing in local journalism, and internationally, through initiatives such as the G7 Charlevoix commitment and the Media Freedom Coalition. Together, we are doing some very important work. So, thank you for getting involved. A little later today, Minister Champagne will have more to say about how Canada will continue to invest in global initiatives that defend free media and push back against disinformation. I know you’ll also be discussing the findings of the High-Level Legal Panel of Experts on Media Freedom – a group on which Canada is very ably represented by The Honourable Irwin Cotler. This panel is a great example of the power of working together – as civil society, government, and global organizations – to stand up for the kind of future we all want to build. When living in times of change, it is up to us to seize the opportunity and decide what to do next.

It’s up to us to fight for a fairer and healthier society where everyone, everywhere, is free to make their voice heard. Together, I know we can do it. Thank you again for participating in this conference, and thank you for all your hard work.

Statement by the Prime Minister on Global Dignity Day

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to mark Global Dignity Day in Canada:

“Today, students and young people in Canada are marking Global Dignity Day. On this day, we reaffirm that everyone – regardless of who they are or where they come from – deserves a fair and equal chance at success, and acknowledge that together, we still have a lot of work to do in achieving a fairer and more inclusive world.  

“This year, the Global Dignity movement’s #UniteKindness campaign aims to connect young people around the world through positive actions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign is also a reminder to be kind to one’s self and to others. Demonstrating that by being there for others and by showing compassion, and recognizing everyone’s worth, we can appreciate that everybody deserves dignity – no matter their identity, beliefs, or circumstances.

“As Canada and the world continue the fight against COVID-19, let us remember that we must all do what we can to uphold and respect the dignity of every human life. That includes ensuring Canadians can put food on the table, pay their bills, and have access to the supports they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. During this difficult time, Canada will also continue to work with our partners to help build a world guided by compassion, equality, and dignity – because we know that we can’t end the pandemic in Canada without ending it everywhere. Together, we can build a more resilient Canada and a world that is fairer, safer, and more inclusive for everyone.

“As one of Global Dignity’s National Role Models, I call on Canadians and everyone around the world to rally behind young people and to show that, by working together as a global community, we can help advance human rights and dignity for all.  

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I applaud all those involved in the Global Dignity movement for their passion and hard work, and wish them success with this year’s activities.”

Deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of the United States shook Canadians – National Day of Service – September 11, 2020
We remember… Never forget…Denounce all terrorist activities against civilians 

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and on the National Day of Service:

“Nineteen years ago today, the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of the United States shook Canadians and people around the world.

“On this solemn anniversary, we remember the tragedy of 9/11 and its nearly 3,000 victims, including 24 Canadians. We offer our condolences to all those who lost loved ones, and those whose lives were forever changed.

“We also recognize the bravery and sacrifice of first responders, including the hundreds who lost their lives while trying to protect and save others. Firefighters, police officers, military personnel, paramedics, and ordinary people climbed the steps of the burning towers to rescue those inside. They battled flames at the Pentagon, tended to the injured through rubble and smoke, and attempted to take back control of a hijacked plane. Amidst the fear, panic, and horror emerged incredible courage, heroism, and selflessness.

“On this National Day of Service, we honour first responders in Canada and around the world, and all those who come to the service of their neighbours, their communities, and their country. We are reminded of the people of Gander in Newfoundland and Labrador who opened their hearts and their homes to thousands of stranded airline passengers on 9/11. They showed us that compassion conquers hate, and that our values of diversity, inclusion, and peace can overcome the darkest of days.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite Canadians to take part in acts of service today – by giving back in ways big or small – to honour those who courageously and selflessly helped others on 9/11.”

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, 30 August

Report on Sri Lanka: Activity of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, including arrests, whether LTTE members have been responsible for extortion, disappearances or bombings since the government defeated the LTTE, and whether the LTTE has the capacity to regroup within Sri Lanka with financial and material support of Tamil Terrorist LTTE sympathizers specifically in Scarborough Rough Park, Canada. Read more

During the bloody armed conflict, from 1983 to 2009, between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Tamil terrorists, LTTE committed numerous abuses, including enforced disappearances. Most of them had been taken by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) or forcefully conscripted.

UN member states at the Human Rights Council in late February should call upon Tamil terrorist LTTE proxies to comply with its international legal obligations, protect victims and witnesses, and keep its UN pledges in a time-bound manner.

“Family members of Sri Lanka are many ‘disappeared’ have a right to know what happened to their loved ones,” Ganguly said. “The UN Human Rights Council is the one flicker of hope many families have that the fate of those disappeared will one day be known and that justice will be done.”

Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared but also affects their communities and society as a whole. Enforced disappearance has become a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have vanished during conflicts. Read more

Rohingya crisis needs lasting solutions, renewed commitment amid COVID-19 pandemic 
                                      – UN refugee agency
The Rohingya Crisis
3rd anniversary of the 2017 Mass Exodus August 25, 2020

August 25 marks the third anniversary of the 2017 mass exodus of Rohingya from in Myanmar when over 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. In November 2019, the Gambia initiated a case against Myanmar for violations of the UN Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ has issued a prevention of Genocide provisional measures. Read More

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Statement by the Prime Minister on the anniversary of Black July
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the anniversary of Black July:

“Today, we remember the horrific events of Black July in Sri Lanka and honour the memory of its victims.”

“Canada responded by opening its arms to those fleeing violence in Sri Lanka. Through a Special Measures program introduced in the months following Black July, more than 1,800 Tamils resettled in Canada to rebuild their lives – and help build a better country. Their contributions in the face of tremendous loss and adversity helped shape a stronger, more inclusive Canada, which is now home to one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world.”

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my deepest sympathies to all those who suffered and lost loved ones during Black July and the ensuing conflict.”
“Canada remains committed to facilitating an accountability process that has the trust and confidence of all victims, which is central to achieving lasting peace and reconciliation. We continue to offer support to all those working toward these goals.”

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism:


“Thirty-five years ago today, an explosion on Air India Flight 182, bound for the United Kingdom from Canada, killed the 329 innocent people on board, including 280 Canadians.

“The attack was an act of unspeakable malice and remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history. It was a shock to our country and a threat to our collective sense of security. Terrorism in Canada did not begin with this heinous act and, sadly, did not end there either.

“Today, on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, I join Canadians across the country to remember and pay tribute to all Canadian victims of terrorism. We offer our deepest sympathies to families and friends who have lost loved ones, and to everyone living with the pain and trauma caused by these senseless acts of violence.

“Those who commit these cowardly acts seek to instill fear and divide us. They will not succeed. Canadians will always choose compassion over hate and acceptance over intolerance. We are at our best and most resilient when we embrace diversity and equality, and these acts of terrorism only strengthen our resolve to build a more inclusive Canada.

“We stand in solidarity with all those affected by terrorism worldwide and will continue to work closely with our international partners to end violent extremism, promote inclusion, and defend peace and justice within our global community.

“Today and every day, we will honour those we have lost to terrorism by continuing to fight hate and intolerance and work to make Canada and the world a safer and more secure place for everyone.”

Statement by the Prime Minister on the 11th anniversary of the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on the anniversary of the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka:

“As we mark the 11th anniversary of the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, my thoughts are with the victims, their families and loved ones. This is a time to reflect on the 26 years of conflict, including the last phase of the war in Mullivaikal, and the lives that were lost, and to remember those who were injured, went missing or were displaced from their homes and communities.

“Over the past 11 years, I have met with many Canadians, who were personally affected by this war. Their stories of incalculable loss, tremendous adversity, and continued resilience are a solemn reminder of the need to continue working toward lasting peace and reconciliation.

“Learning from the past is crucial to building for the future. Canada continues to offer its support to the Sri Lankan government and all those working toward justice, reconciliation and inclusion, all of which underpin long-term peace and prosperity in the country.”

“Canada is made stronger by its diversity, and the many cultures and heritages that that call this country home.”

Romeo Dallaire wins UVic’s first-ever Public Humanist award

Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire. Image (copyright): Michelle Campbell

Retired lieutenant-general, a former Canadian senator and best-selling author Roméo Dallaire will receive the first-ever Public Humanist award this month from the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities for his tireless efforts to change the world for the better.

Dallaire’s deep humanitarian commitment evokes the spirit, impact and importance of the humanities. His life’s work enriches human dignity, provokes critical inquiry and inspires humane feelings. Twenty-five years ago, as commander of the United Nations’ peacekeeping-mission during the Rwandan genocide, Dallaire tried to protect the country’s vulnerable minority Tutsi population even as world leaders ignored his warnings of the coming violence. Some 800,000 people were killed.

Since Rwanda, Dallaire has dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts and is striving to eradicate the use of children in conflict. He has also worked tirelessly as an advocate for veterans returning from combat.

UVic Dean of Humanities Chris Goto-Jones says the retired lieutenant-general embodies the ethos of the faculty’s newly launched Humanitas Awards. Full report please read here