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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Thubten Samdup appointed representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to London, England

May 20, 2009

Thubten Samdup appointed representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to London, England
 
On March 26, the founder of the Canada Tibet Committee Thubten Samdup – or Sam as he’s known to us – was appointed the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London, England.
 
In addition to his new duties, Sam’s many ongoing projects include the development of an outreach model to establish a peaceful dialogue with China. The Drewla Initiative Project, based in Dharamsala, India, seeks new ways to educate Chinese on Tibet’s historical and cultural reality through unbiased and uncensored information. Sam and a dedicated team of volunteers are also organizing the Visit of His Holiness to Montreal.
 
 
Sam, 56, was born in Tibet, but fled to India with his family at the age of nine. There he joined the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts where he eventually became the director. In 1981 he moved to Montreal with his Canadian wife, Carol, and their two children, Dawa and Deborah.
 
Thubten, or “Samto his non-Tibetans friends, wanted to experience what he calls “the Canadian way of life.” Instead, he came face-to-face with a startling reality: that those around him had no knowledge of Tibet and its half-century struggle.
 
“I felt that we couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, [if only] because people here don’t really know what’s happening in Tibet. The only thing they seem to know is that Tibetans are religious people, they live in the mountains, there are lots of monks and nuns, but not in terms of what Tibetan people are going through.”
 
A call to action
 
The former music student threw himself into the Tibetan struggle, but it wasn’t until 1987 that his purpose became clear. A huge riot had erupted in Tibet earlier that year, and Sam had planned a walk from Montreal to Ottawa with young Tibetans as a way to raise awareness. On the day they started their trek – March 5 – protests broke out in Tiananmen Square, and marshal law was imposed in Tibet. The media took notice, and Sam’s demonstration was a huge success.
 
With Tibet finally on the map, Tibetans agreed that it was their duty to keep the momentum going. At the time, Sam had a full-time job and found it difficult doing everything by himself. That year he started the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC), an independent, non-governmental organization committed to the preservation of Tibetan culture and the restoration of Tibet to its status as an independent state.
 
“Tibetans in Tibet count on us to do something,” stresses Sam. “This struggle is a Tibetan struggle, and it’s very important that Tibetans lead the struggle.” For 13 years, Sam and a handful of volunteers worked from his basement – they produced newsletters, participated in community events to bolster the community’s profile, and lobbied the government on behalf of the Dalai Lama. Before long, people across Canada began to show interest, and the CTC opened branches in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary – even Chicoutimi, adds Sam, for a total of eleven offices across Canada.
 
Sam will be moving to London in May. On behalf of our members and supporters, the CTC wishes Sam all the best in his new duties and know that we’ll be in constant touch nonetheless for advice and counsel.
 
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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