Tibetans celebrating Tibetan Heritage Month in Ontario, Canada. Photo: File

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Toronto, Canada — Tibetan community in Ontario celebrates Tibetan Heritage Month for the first time since the passing of ‘Bill 131 Tibetan Heritage Month Act’ in the provincial Legislature in September 2020. July is a sacred month for the Tibetan community.

On July 6, 2021, Tibetans across the world celebrated the 86th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tibetans in Canada also celebrated his 86th birthday during Tibetan Heritage Month.

The month is celebrated by hosting cultural events that pay homage to Tibetan history and culture. Tibetan Women’s Association of Ontario and Toronto Dokham Chushi Gangdruk hosted a cultural show and Lhakar Gorshey in celebration of the same on July 14, 2021.

On September 24, 2020, Bhutila’s bill 131, the Tibetan Heritage Month Act, was passed through the Ontario legislature with unanimous consent. Bhutila Karpoche is the first person of Tibetan heritage to be elected in public office in North America. She worked hard to ensure that the contributions of Tibetan-Canadians were recognized in Ontario and that their heritage and identity were protected. Her bill was unopposed and helped formally recognize this month.

Officially proclaiming the month of July as Tibetan Heritage Month means that the province of Ontario recognizes the importance of the Tibetan community in Canadian society. Tibetan Heritage Month is a great opportunity to promote and preserve the Tibetan cultural heritage. It is also a suitable time to educate future generations about the significance of Tibetan culture.

This month also celebrates the significant roles that Tibetan-Canadians have played in Canadian society. Tibetan-Canadians have made Canada a diverse country and were some of the earliest government-sponsored non-European refugees to settle in Canadian land. The first Tibetan immigrants in Canada are part of the last generation born in Tibet prior to the brutal Chinese occupation. Their journey as refugees is a part of a long barbaric history full of hardships and forced exile. This month celebrates their collective history and the sense of shared identity they have continued to retain.