Tamil relatives still waiting for news from migrants
As Ottawa continues to sort out the identities of the 492 Tamil migrants who landed in British Columbia last week, many Canadian Tamils are still awaiting confirmation that their family members made the trip to Canada.
Neerja Ganeshalingam's family is waiting to find out what happened to 11 relatives who boarded a boat several months ago.
Due to the timing of their departure, Ganeshalingam believes they were likely on board the MV Sun Sea -- the ship that sailed from Thailand and arrived in B.C. on Friday.
"I suspect that because I have a grandmother who lives in Sri Lanka who has told us that these 11 members of my family boarded a boat around the same time of the departure of this boat," Ganeshalingam told CTV's Canada AM from London, Ont., on Wednesday morning.
But her Canadian family won't be sure until they hear from their Sri Lankan relatives directly.
"We haven't had contact with them for up to six months now," Ganeshalingam said. "So we have no idea."
For now the people who landed in B.C. are being housed in local detention facilities while they await detention hearings. On Tuesday, 78 hearings were held, with some migrants appearing in-person before Immigration and Review Board officials and others by telephone.
The IRB has allowed reporters into the current hearings, which are often closed. The Canadian Tamil Congress and the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam have not been allowed to attend.
In the aftermath of Sri Lanka's long and bloody civil war, Ganeshalingam said the Tamil people have been left with little chance of rebuilding the lives they used to have.
"The war in Sri Lanka is officially over as we all know it, but the conditions are not much better," she said.
Ganeshalingam said "their homes are not there anymore, their schools are not there, their hospitals are all gone."
In Ganeshalingam's own family, at least 10 people died as a result of the war. After so much loss, she said that the family members that have fled Sri Lanka simply have "no hope for maintaining the same life that they had before."
With files from The Canadian Press