Manitoba’s Sri Lankan community grieving for victims of attacks

Manitoba’s Sri Lankan community is banding together to grieve after deadly bombings in their country of origin over the weekend.The Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba’s Gishali Gamage told 680 CJOB it was particularly upsetting to hear about the attacks after Sri Lanka had enjoyed a decade of peace following 25 years of civil war.“Why again? That was my first thought,” she said.Story continues below

“Why are we going through this again? Why are our people going through this again? They’ve already gone through lots. It’s so unfair.”READ MORE: Canadians in Sri Lanka warned more attacks possible after deadly bombingsGamage – who came to Canada in 2004 – said the community has been mostly focused on making sure friends and family in Sri Lanka are safe and accounted for.“We had prayers at the temple last night, and everyone’s thinking of people, they’re calling families back home to make sure everyone’s safe,” she said.“It’s just an ongoing back and forth, finding out if anybody needs help finding their families.”So far, she said, no one in the local community has any direct family ties to victims, although there are many Sri Lankans in Winnipeg with roots in the affected region.“That’s the only good news here, but we are so saddened and grieving for the people.”The co-ordinated bomb attacks in Sri Lanka killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more, and are believed to have been suicide attacks, according to media reports.Targets included hotels frequented by tourists, as well as a church that was conducting Easter services at the time of the attacks. Sri Lankan authorities have reportedly arrested seven suspects in connection with the bombings.Deeply saddened to learn of the attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka. On this day of renewal, Winnipeggers thoughts and prayers are with all those affected in Sri Lanka, in our community and around the world. 🇱🇰 🇨🇦— Mayor Brian Bowman (@Mayor_Bowman) April 21, 2019
READ MORE: ‘It was panic mode’: Witness describes aftermath of Sri Lankan bomb attacks

Prof. Dilantha Fernando

Prof. Dilantha FernandoUniversity of ManitobaUniversity of Manitoba professor Dilantha Fernando, who is in Sri Lanka working with local universities, told 680 CJOB he was attending (a different) church in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, when the attacks happened.“It’s really unfortunate that this happened on a significant religious day,” he said. “In Sri Lanka, the minority are Christians, but Christians are always well-regarded and are seen as citizens of Sri Lanka. There has never been an issue where Christians have been targeted in this manner.“I was in church, as a Christian, and it’s pretty eerie to think about it, because it could have been my church. That kind of haunts me, even after 24 hours. It’s still in my mind, lingering.”Fernando, a plant pathologist who works on crop diseases, said the biggest fear among people in Sri Lanka is whether the attacks are finished or not.“In a situation like this, we’re not sure if there are many more suicide bombers waiting to attack again,” he said.“This could be the tip of the iceberg, and that’s the scare that Sri Lankans are having today.”WATCH: Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings