Creation of the very first chair of Tamil studies at a Canadian university
The Canadian city of Toronto will host the first ever chair of Tamil studies to be established at a university in the country.
The project, launched by the University of Toronto with Tamil groups based in Canada in 2018, is now a reality with sufficient funds having been raised to staff the position which will be located on the University of Scarborough campus.
Canada has the largest Tamil population outside of the Indian subcontinent at over 300,000 people and with roots in India, Sri Lanka and other countries like Singapore and Malaysia.
The chair will encourage scholarship and research on language and its cultural aspects.
Groups that participated in the initiative included the Canadian Tamil Congress and Tamil Chair Inc., and among its supporters was the Indian state government of Tamil Nadu.
A total of $ 3 million has been raised to allow staffing to begin the process of formalizing the program.
Wisdom J Tettey, director of the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus (UTSC), told HT the university will now embark on a global search to nominate the chair.
He said they will seek “outstanding reputation and who can undertake research and connect with the community in ways that ensure co-learning and reciprocal interaction.”
Accountant Sivan Ilangko, also president of the Tamil Canadian Congress, welcomed the decision. “The Tamil community around the world is interested in ancient and modern Tamil literature. The Tamil Chair is also expected to include interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, classics, sociology, political science, anthropology, geography, linguistics, literature and fine arts. We anticipate that there will be teaching and research in these areas, ”he said.
Ilangko pointed out that Tamil is one of the oldest classical languages still in existence with a tradition dating back over 2,000 years. It is also a modern language spoken by over 80 million people in many countries.
UTSC director Tettey felt that the institutionalization of Tamil studies will attract even those beyond the Tamil community. “Tamil studies have different components – from language studies to history and culture. As an institution with a global mission and perspective, the interest will be from a wide range of people across the world with different motivations, ”Tettey said.
“The chair’s work in the context of Toronto, which has a huge community of Tamil origin with global connections, will support our vision to inspire inclusive academic excellence and to enrich our multicultural society by studying, promoting and by supporting Tamil culture and heritage around the world. “Said the director of UTSC.