Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion received a warm welcome in Jaffna today as he continued on the second day of his historic visit to Sri Lanka. The visit to Jaffna holds significant symbolism as Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil community outside Asia, who maintain strong ties to the region.
Yesterday, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister urged ‘brothers and sisters’ who sought refuge in Canada during the war to visit the island, participate in the reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
Apart from cultural and linguistic ties to the region, Canada has funded several projects in the North.
Students of the Canadian funded Jaffna Hospitality Training Center were seen posing with Dion for a selfie picture. Dion described the students as highly motivated, as they displayed their training in a mock restaurant and hotel.
The Minister also visited and toured the re-built the Jaffna Library. Dion donated to library English and French books that won the 2015 Governor General Awards, reflecting diversity and multiculturalism of Canadian literary.
During a meeting with the Chief Minister of Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaren he was told about the need to address the grievances of the Tamil minority community in the island.
The Chief Minister talked about need for devolution of power and respect of rights and freedoms of Northern Province people.
Dion opened the Canada-funded UNDP Project site, ‘Siddha Medicine Production Sales and Service Cooperative Society (COPHARM)’.
The Centre which is now equipped to improve product quality and cater to the increasing demand of herbal medicinal products. The center will also include a research and library facility to provide knowledge and learning opportunities to Siddha Medicine undergraduates.
The Canadian government, under a financial envelope of 6 Million Canadian Dollars, has partnered with two UN agencies – namely the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – to strengthen agro economic sector in the North of Sri Lanka, under the ‘Agro-Economic Development Project’, which will benefit over 11,000 households across the Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts.