Sri Lankans Without Borders (SLWB) is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada that provides an independent, transparent, and inclusive platform for Canadians to connect, build, and lead initiatives that promote meaningful cross-community engagement and dialogue between Sri Lanka’s diaspora communities. Building on universal values of pluralism and equality as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we are also committed to a peaceful and democratic Sri Lanka for all its citizens on the basis of truth, accountability, and justice.
We are committed to building an open and inclusive space where Canadians who trace their origins to the island of Sri Lanka and those interested in Sri Lanka can come together to understand, acknowledge, and work with each other. We seek to address issues of mutual interest to the diaspora community and contribute responsibly to promoting intercommunal dialogue influencing a lasting peace by encouraging solutions to problems facing Sri Lanka today.
The word “Sri Lankans” is a geographical reference to the country to which more than 300,000 Canadians trace their shared origins. “Without Borders” refers specifically to the diaspora, which has moved beyond the geographical boundaries of that country. The name is not intended to limit our audience to those who identify as Sri Lankan or are of Sri Lankan origin. Our organization welcomes members of all communities.
We hope to communicate our goal to transcend the borders of our communities and break out of the cycle of learned prejudices, misunderstanding, and discrimination that has fractured the relationship between ethnic communities in the diaspora.
The primary goal of SLWB is to offer relevant programming that will:
- Encourage critical thinking in our youth so that they may understand and acknowledge all sides of an issue and come to a conclusion of their own accord. We believe this encourages them to become good global citizens and participate in their communities.
- Promote honest dialogue and meaningful cross-community engagement within the diaspora while acknowledging the myriad experiences and perspectives of its Tamil (those of Sri Lankan and Indian origins), Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher, Malay and other groups.
- Build on the values of pluralism and equality enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to create an open and inclusive space where the diaspora can contribute responsibly to the further development of a democratic Sri Lanka. A space that recognizes cultural difference and protects its citizens regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, class, caste, education, region, status, and/or sexual orientation.
Sri Lankans Without Borders was founded in 2010 when a group of eight young professionals of diverse ethnic, religious, and political perspectives discovered a shared interest in engaging in honest dialogue across differences to address issues impacting all members of the diaspora. Despite being active in t
heir own communities, they felt a new kind of platform was needed to re-think diaspora relations and use their shared but troubled history constructively to discuss past grievances instead of perpetuating distrust, prejudice, and exclusionary politics.
On April 11, 2010, SLWB held a networking luncheon and brought together 50 Sri Lankan Canadian students and young professionals working in various industries and paired them with mentors from the Jewish and Indo-Canadian communities to discuss ways in which the diaspora can work together on common issues, such as access to higher education, employment and training, social services, and capacity building.
Since then, we have held numerous events which have attracted hundreds of participants, received extensive media coverage in major Canadian and community media outlet, and registered almost 1,000 members. We continue to learn and grow with the communities we belong to in Canada, Sri Lanka, and globally.
Our Statement of Values
- To be understood, we will seek first to understand.
- We have a responsibility to live out our Canadian values of equality and pluralism in all spheres of our personal and public lives.
- It is far more purposeful to build on what binds us together as Canadians with historic and present ties to Sri Lanka,and not what divides us.
- While we may not always agree with some of our peers, we have a commitment to treat them with dignity and respectfully agree to disagree.
- It is only when we stand together as Canadians of Sri Lankan origin can we contribute responsibly to promoting lasting peace, meaningful truth and reconciliation, and political and social solutions to problems in Sri Lanka.
- As Canadians, we have a responsibility to engage Sri Lanka in a constructive, responsible and direct manner that takes into account the experiences and needs as articulated by those on the ground in Sri Lanka whom we wish to assist.
- It is important to create a unified future in Canada that is devoid of learned prejudices, misunderstanding and discrimination without forgetting the painful memories of our collective past in Sri Lanka.
- It our shared responsibility as Canadians to contribute to the further development of a Sri Lanka that recognizes cultural difference and protects its citizens regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, class, caste, education, region, status, and/or sexual orientation. We should do so by taking into account the myriad needs, experiences, and perspectives of those who live and have lived in Sri Lanka.