Retrieved lifeboat tells stories of Tamil refugees

Siva Mehanathan left his war-torn home country of Sri Lanka in 1986 on a cargo ship, hoping he would make it to Canada, but having very little assurance that the journey would take him here.After 13 days on the ship, Mehanathan recalled Monday, he and the 154 others were abandoned in the two lifeboats in the Atlantic Ocean, without food or water.They remained there for three days, firing a flare gun in hopes that they would be noticed, although they didn’t even know their whereabouts. A fishing boat captain named Gus Dalton noticed the lifeboats, and rescued the refugees. “After the captain got us, we said ‘what is this place?’ He said ‘Canada.’ And after that, everybody was happy,” Mehanathan said.Article Continued BelowA World Refugee Day event at Ryerson University on Tuesday will centre on one of the lifeboats Mehanathan and 154 other Sri Lankan Tamil refugees arrived in off the coast of Newfoundland more than 30 years ago.The boat, organizers say, is “an object of honour” for those who have sought refuge in this country. It was tracked down by documentary filmmaker Cyrus Sundar Singh in the summer of 2016, and is now travelling through Canadian cities on a mobile exhibit that tells stories of those who arrived to Canada on the boat.