The 70th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence was celebrated at the Sri Lanka High Commissioner’s Official Residence in Canada in the presence of over 160 guests who braved a wintry afternoon to be present on the occasion.
The message of President Maithripala Sirisena was read by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ahmed A. Jawad, while those of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tilak Marapana were read by Ms. Sithara Khan, Deputy High Commissioner and Ms. Mithila Perera, Second Secretary at the High Commission. The traditional oil lamp was lit by guests belonging to all communities. Religious discourses based on national unity were delivered by the clergy representing the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths.
Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Ahmed A. Jawad enumerated important developments in Sri Lanka including steps taken to preserve the fundamental freedoms of its people. Referring to nation building, he emphasized the need for unity of all Sri Lankans irrespective of ethnicity and faith. He went on to state that “Undoubtedly much has been achieved in the last 70 years. It is a Sri Lanka in which all its citizens endeavour to live in a spirit of unity in diversity that we aspire to build; one in which all Sri Lankans are proud to call themselves Sri Lankan”.
The High Commissioner highlighted the rapid growth in Sri Lanka – Canada relations making reference to the visit of the Foreign Minister of Canada in 2016, the first in 13 years – the formation of the Sri Lanka-Canada Friendship Group in the Canadian Parliament and the visit of two cross party delegations from the Federal Parliament in 2016 and 2017. He also referred to the initialing of a fully-fledged Code Share Agreement between the two countries, after nearly 14 years since the initial request was made, the visit of the Frigate “HMS Winnipeg” in 2017, the first such interaction between the Sri Lankan and Canadian navies after a number of decades, among others.
Referring to the substantial presence of Canadians of Sri Lankan extraction on the occasion, the High Commissioner referred to them as a vital link between the two countries, a link by which they have also enriched Canada, stating “your presence this afternoon has a special significance. You may now be far away from Sri Lanka but I know you have the welfare of your land of birth always in your hearts”.
A reception was hosted by the High Commissioner and Mrs. Farzana Jawad at the conclusion of the ceremony.