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Canada- Sri Lanka Relations

Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Canada dates back many decades. Both countries are founding members of the Commonwealth. Canada opened its resident Mission in Colombo on 20th August 1953. After being administered as a Consulate of the Embassy in Washington D.C. for many years, Sri Lanka established its first resident Mission in Ottawa in 1958. Subsequently, Sri Lanka established its Consul General’s office in Toronto in 2001 in order to cater to the growing consular needs of the large number of the expatriate Sri Lankan community.

Canada has been a long standing development cooperation partner with Sri Lanka, dating back to the 1950s. At the very beginning Sri Lanka had been a recipient of technical assistance from Canada under the Colombo Plan.  Canada provided financial and technical assistance to complete the construction of the Colombo International Airport, and as a result, the road to the airport was named as Canada-Sri Lanka Friendship Road. The Hardy Technical Training Institute in Amparai, the Maduru Oya Reservoir project under the accelerated Mahaveli Development Scheme and the extension of Gal Oya transmission lines were also financed by the Government of Canada.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has provided financial and technical assistance to Sri Lanka since its inception in 1968.  CIDA has also been working closely with the United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF to assist the conflict related humanitarian and rehabilitation needs in Sri Lanka. Following the Tsunami in December 2004, CIDA provided humanitarian assistance to the Tsunami affected communities as well. In the year 2009 CIDA allocated a sum of C$ 22.5 million as humanitarian and other related aid to Sri Lanka, especially to assist the Internally Displaced Persons, following the defeat of terrorism in May 2009.

At the political and diplomatic level Sri lanka and Canada have been maintaining close and cordial links over the years. There have been many visits between the two countries at the highest levels. Sri Lanka and Canada has worked closely together at the bilateral and multilateral level.

In April 2006, the Canadian Government proscribed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist Organisation under its Anti-Terrorism Act. The Canadian Government, in June 2008, listed the World Tamil Movement (WTM) as a “terrorist Organisation”.

Sri Lankans migrating to Canada goes back many decades. It is estimated that there are approximately 250,000 - 300,000 persons of Sri Lankan origin living in Canada, and many of them are Canadian citizens.