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Photo by Ian Patterson

“My History Is Important to Be Taught”

Student Kavithaa Kandasamy recently took a Tamil Studies class at U of T Scarborough. She describes what it meant to her

About The Author

Author image: Stacey Gibson

Stacey Gibson

Deputy Editor, University of Toronto Magazine

“This year, I enrolled in “The Making of Tamil Worlds,” which was taught by Prof. Ponni Arasu. Her methods of teaching history are powerful, using large themes such as migration to connect stories and people throughout time.

Although my parents are from Sri Lanka, I was born and raised in Scarborough. I have never been to Sri Lanka, and I identify more as a Canadian. My parents have rarely spoken about the hardships that Tamils endured during the civil war in Sri Lanka. By probing deeper into the issues in class, I am able to understand the realities that Tamils have faced, and continue to face, to this day.

Growing up, the extent of my knowledge about the war came from dinner-table conversations between my dad and my uncle, which left me with more questions than answers. Prof. Arasu used scholarship and research to create a timeline that broke down the enormous complexity of why this war happened. Remaining objective is very difficult when something hits so hard at home, yet her academic approach enabled me to think critically about the underpinnings of the civil war, and find the answers I was seeking. 

I sincerely hope that there will be more Tamil Studies classes, especially at a place like UTSC, which is so multicultural. I am proud to attend a school which teaches many different types of history – and acknowledges that my history is important to be taught.”

Recent gifts to expand Tamil studies at UTSC include a $2 million from Ravi Gukathasan (BSc 1982 UTSC, PhD 1987), a $327,000 from Prof. Brenda Beck of anthropology, and a $3-million commitment from Tamil Chair Inc. and the Canadian Tamil Congress.

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