1000 New Tibetans
In 2007 during his visit to Ottawa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper whether his government would agree to welcome Tibetans from the north Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh to Canada. Through the efforts of then Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney, his staff, and in coordination with the Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian Tibetan Associations, and the Office of Tibet in New York, the resettlement project agreement was finalised in 2010.
In 2011, at the request of the Canadian government, Project Tibet Society (PTS) was established to oversee and coordinate the resettlement effort headed by CTC Board member Nima Dorje and former Executive Director Dermod Travis. PTS subsequently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to assist it in implementing the program.
The CTA through its Department of Home provided the settlement resident data, allocated the number of seats based on the population of various camps, and monitored the selection process. The actual work of preparing a list of people and organizing a selection lottery was conducted by the camp representatives under the direction of the Department of Home and the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet).
The first 17 Tibetans, part of the initial wave of more than 200, arrived in Canada on November 29, 2013. It is hoped that eventually up to 1000 Tibetans living in Arunachal Pradesh will be resettled in Canada under the program.
As the first Tibetans left India for their new home in Canada, they were treated to an official send-off reception in Delhi with special guest His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay made the following statement:
“I sincerely thank the Government of Canada and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper, particularly former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the current Immigration Minister Mr. Chris Alexander and his dedicated staff. I also thank the Government of India for agreeing to this burden sharing program, and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh for facilitating the relocation. I would like to thank and urge PTS and local Tibetan Association to continue their efforts to see a successful resettlement of Tibetans from Arunachal Pradesh. I once again request all fellow Tibetans and our friends in Canada to contribute to make this a success.”
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