Founder, Sri Lankans Without Borders
Vijay Sappani is a renowned Toronto-based political and community activist. He has earned his reputation through his work on human rights, democracy, security, foreign affairs and social development.
Born in 1975, Vijay spent most of his childhood in Chennai, India. His mother was born and raised in Sri Lanka and his father was from India. He was fortunate to have grown up with people of diverse cultures and faiths. Along with that and his father’s strong involvement with national politics, Vijay at an early age developed an interest in human rights, democracy, security and globalisation. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the Tamilnadu Medical University, after which he traveled across India working for Eli Lilly India and Heinz India. He then spent a year in social development projects before moving to Canada for higher education.
Vijay came to Canada in August 1999 at the age of 23 as an international student doing his postgraduate work in marketing management. Having been active in the democratic process in India and eager to learn, Vijay decided to join a party that fits his values. He joined the Liberals in October 1999 and when others saw his passion in the political arena, he was invited in January 2000 to be become an executive member of the Etobicoke-Lakeshore federal Liberal riding association under the Hon. Jean Augustine.
DFO6In spite of being a foreign student in Canada, Vijay was active on campus. He graduated with honors and his postgraduate degree in Marketing Management from Humber Business School in June 2000, and was awarded the Humber College student appreciation award for his exemplary service towards improving student life in campus. After graduation, he went to work for UPS Canada.
The federal election in November 2000 was his first opportunity to work on a campaign in Canada. He worked for the Hon. Jean Augustine, putting up signs, knocking on doors, making phone calls and sharing his experience with residents to explain why the Liberals were best for Canada. Vijay has played an increasingly active role in every election since then.
Because of his passion on trade issues, Vijay joined the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) as a member in 2000 and in 2001, sensing the need to engage young people, he went on to be the founding chair of the Young Professionals of ICCC. Vijay also served on the board of ICCC as one of its youngest directors in its history. His vision and leadership exhibited with the Liberal party, Humber College and ICCC created more opportunities for him to showcase his abilities and his passion for serving people.
Vijay went on to serve many organisations on their boards and committees including, ICCC, United Way, Metro Toronto Junior Chamber, Canadian Unity Council, Internationally educated professionals, and many more. But he knew that this was not enough. To enhance his political skills, he served as the director of fundraising for a candidate for the president of the Liberal Party of Canada. Over a period of year and half, his fundraising and organising skills impressed many senior people in the party, who encouraged him to run for the National Executive. VJUTCC
Vijay became a permanent resident of Canada in March 2003 and joined a major pharmaceutical company in April 2003. He took the challenge to run for the National Executive of the Liberal party of Canada in November 2003, seeking to be the Chair of Multiculturalism. He was the youngest candidate and ran on an economic platform of multiculturalism. He became a citizen of Canada in 2006.
Vijay continues to work with the Liberal party as an organiser and fundraiser, helping candidates and the party. He also plays a major role in getting grassroot communities involved with the democratic process and helping new Canadians integrate in the country. He also has started many community organisations in Canada and continues to play an active role in the boards of many organisations in business, professional, health, charitable and political areas.
Vijay currently works as national manager with a pharmaceutical company and travels coast to coast in Canada. He is fluent in English, Tamil, Hindi and Urdu. Vijay and his wife Abi live in Unionville.