On February 17th, 2021, the world lost a beautiful soul, a wonderful daughter, an amazing sister, and a caring friend cherished by many. Meruba Sivaselvachandran was a second year law student in the combined J.D./M.B.A. program at the University of Toronto and worked tirelessly to fight for equality and justice for everyone.
My name is Sivaani Sivaselvachandran and I am Meruba’s older sister. From a young age, Meruba has always spoken up against injustice. One of my earliest memories of Meruba was when she was only 4 years old and confronted my then 7-year-old bully. I remember my face streaming with tears after my bully took away my favourite toy. With no hesitation at all, my sister stood up to my bully, demanded my toy back and has been my protector ever since. Our mother recalls one of Meruba’s birthdays where at the age of 8, she decided to donate all her birthday money to UNICEF. These are just some of the many examples we can share of the type of person Meruba was. As she grew older, she extended this kindness, compassion and advocacy to encompass more individuals and later entire groups of people.
Meruba’s drive to better the lives of people around her comes from our hardworking parents, who are refugees from the Sri Lankan genocide. My sister’s desire for equality was what motivated her to pursue a law degree. In the summer of 2020, Meruba worked as a legal intern for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) and continued to volunteer there. PEARL focuses on advocacy and self-determination for Tamil people of North-East Sri Lanka. Meruba’s interest in PEARL stems from her identity and her overall hope was for the liberation and freedom of Tamil people. She was also committed to anti-racism and social justice, which led her to many impactful roles including that of the Programming and Outreach Assistant with the Equity and Diversity Office.
Her family and friends will miss her kind nature, witty humour, charming personality and infectious laugh. Meruba loved expressing herself through many forms of art including music, painting, writing, sewing stuffed animals, and crafting. Meruba was always seen listening to music and further enjoyed playing the flute, violin, guitar, and piano. My sister had a diversity of hobbies including: playing video games, travelling, and had a natural and deep affection towards animals. She fostered and adopted numerous dogs over the last decade.
How you can help
From animals to people, Meruba’s kindness and empathy knew no bounds. To honour Meruba and her legacy we have chosen four charitable organizations that represent her deepest interests, joys, and what she was most passionate towards.
1. Mississauga Humane Society (MHS)- MHS advocates and cares for companion animals who have been neglected, discarded, given up, and abandoned who seek shelter, basic necessities, and a second chance at life. Meruba has been fostering and caring for dogs in this program for the past decade.
2. People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) – PEARL is a non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka. Meruba worked as a legal intern for PEARL and contributed to research in support of Tamil Genocide recognition.
3. Pathways to Education - This program provides support to high-school students of lower socioeconomic communities in Canada. They believe in the strength and potential of young people and their communities. Pathways to Education provides resources to ensure that every student may graduate from high-school and break the cycle of poverty. Meruba was engaged in various youth initiatives and wanted underprivileged youth to know all the great things they are capable of, and worked to make opportunities available to them at every turn.
4. Screen of Peel Community Association (SOPCA) - SOPCA strives to build a strong and vibrant community, rich in culture, heritage and experience. SOPCA provides scholarships, volunteer opportunities as well as subsidized music and language classes for the children of Tamil immigrants. Meruba’s time at SOPCA nurtured her interest in arts and music. Meruba was involved with SOPCA as a Music Director, musician, emcee, photographer, and actively volunteered in various leadership roles at SOPCA.
Your generous contributions will be distributed amongst these organizations.
Meruba lived a life to ensure that the people she cared for knew how much she loved them, valued them and above all, longed to see them happy. She dedicated her life to caring for others and brought joy and laughter in all that she did, making the world truly brighter.
We will grieve and remember Meruba for the rest of our lives. We will celebrate her life and carry her memory with us in all that we do. We hope to emulate her beautiful soul by living with compassion, generosity and love. The world is and always will be a better place because of her. Thank you for loving my sister and working to keep her memory and passions alive.
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