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Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Canada visits Toronto for SLUNA Event


It was a pleasure meeting the new High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Canada, H.E. Asoka Girihagama this evening. He was the Chief Guest at the Annual General Meeting of the 35-year old Sri Lanka United National Association or SLUNA as it is popularly known throughout the world. SLUNA prides itself as the second oldest Sri Lankan socio-cultural organization formed in Canada. Its roots go back to 1983 following the ethnic unrest in Sri Lanka. A lot of progressive work has been undertaken by SLUNA since 1983 and stands today as a formidable organization by Sri Lankans for Sri Lanka.

The oldest Sri Lankan socio-cultural organization in Canada is the Canada-Sri Lanka Association (CSLA) that was formed in 1968.

The AGM was held in Toronto on Saturday, November 24th attended by a large coterie of members. Prathap Perera was his dynamic self as Master of Ceremonies. By unanimous assent, the same board of management were re-elected to office. Sarath Lokuliyana was ushered in for a second term as president of SLUNA while Keerthi Perera regained his position as General Secretary. The only change to the management structure was the election of Prathap Perera as Executive Vice President of SLUNA. Status-quo was restored with the rest of the Board of Management officers. A few community leaders were invited for the event as special guests and participated in the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. It was also an opportunity for them to meet and greet the new High Commissioner.

During his address, His Excellency Asoka Girihagama said it was an honour to make his first visit to Toronto for the SLUNA event. He plans to be fully engaged with the Sri Lankan community and announced that his office in Ottawa is open to one and all. The High Commissioner said he was fully aware of the extensive damage control done by SLUNA post-1983. One of his main priorities will be to focus on 'reconciliation' and make all Sri Lankans in Canada proud of their country of birth. His Excellency said, "Even though I am based in Ottawa, I will be working closely with the Consulate of Sri Lanka in Toronto to promote trade, investment and bilateral relations between the two countries".

 The new High Commissioner had arrived in Canada on November 7th and presented his credentials to the Governor General of Canada Julie Payette on November 13th. He made his first visit to Toronto in 17 days of arriving in Canada which is remarkable for an incoming High Commissioner. Prior to the appointment, he was the ambassador to Oman and Director General at the Foreign Ministry in charge of Sri Lanka Overseas Service.

High Commissioner Asoka Girihagama joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1992 and has served in Embassies/High Commissions of Sri Lanka in Hungary, Austria, New Delhi, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.  He also served as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman from 2011- 2014. Prior to his appointment as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Canada, he served as the Director General of the South Asia and SAARC Division at the Foreign Ministry in Sri Lanka.

He holds a B. Sc. Degree and a Master’s degree in Applied Statistics and he is a past pupil of Anuradhapura Central College, Anuradhapura.

High Commissioner Asoka Girihagama is married and with one daughter.