Canadian Refugee Champions: Athavarn Srikantharajah and Jothy Pitchaimuthu

Written by Athavarn Srikantharajah and Jothy Pitchaimuthu 




My parents came to Canada from Sri Lanka in 1990, with nothing but a few clothes in a suitcase. Even though they were both young and educated, it was hard to find work. They spent their nights cleaning banks and cemeteries, and heading off in the early hours to deliver newspapers. They moved frequently from basements to dingy apartments, it was all that they could afford. Life was never easy. But through the hardship they never failed to work. They eventually got married, had to two boys, and found jobs they could support a family off of.

And both of them were refugees.

My parents are very unassuming, a seemingly happy couple, and to a point they are. But the memories of the atrocities they witnessed back home will continue to haunt them.

They had faith that Canada would be the place where they could escape the violence and poverty that was forced upon them so suddenly. They knew in their hearts that this is a place they could come to start a life together and live prosperously. And even though they struggled every single day, they were at one point able to achieve that prosperity.  

But Canada is not that place anymore. We have since closed our doors. We’ve built our walls up so high that our light no longer shines beyond the shadows that people like my parents used to live in. We’ve thrown around derogatory slurs in the media and built negative stereotypes about refugees.

We may not be able to stop wars, but we can make a difference. Its time we all stand together to support our fellow human beings, whoever they are and wherever they come from. Its time Canada opens its doors to refugees.