With the outbreak of riots and eventual civil war in Sri Lanka in 1983, Tamil migration to Canada increased significantly. In 2000, Sri Lanka was the sixth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, sending 5,841 people or 2.57% of Canada's immigrant total. Between 1991 and 2001, Sri Lanka was the fifth largest source country of immigrants to Canada, after China, India, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.
Between 2001 and 2010 Sri Lanka's rank dropped to 17 in the list of immigrant source countries to Canada. Well behind the major source countries China (327,317), India (277,819) and Philippines (191,121). In 2010 immigrants from Sri Lanka consisted of only 1.4% of Canada's immigrant total of 280,681.
Most permanent residents from Sri Lanka came as either independent immigrants or family class sponsored immigrants.
Refugee claimants are an independent category of Tamils from Sri Lanka who arrived in Canada and are claiming protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. After 2001 there have been no Government of Canada or private sponsored Tamil refugees to Canada. There are 141,074 UNHCR recognized Tamil refugees in non-signatory countries. There are a total of 589,639 refugees from Sri Lanka in 2011 who have registered with the UNHCR in non-signatory countries.
A community directory of businesses and services for this community, Thamilar Mathiyil (Amidst Tamils), has been published since 1990 and has grown to several hundred pages in length. There are ten weekly Tamil language newspapers, four Tamil language radio stations, and three cinemas that show Tamil language films that are produced in Tamil Nadu and in Canada. Toronto is also home to the largest Tamil video and music stores in the world. There are also three television stations in Tamil serving the community. The Monsoon Journal and the Tamil Mirror are popular English language papers created and targeted at Tamils.
Various political, social and religious organizations exists among the Tamil Canadian community. One such organization is Canadian Tamil Congress, which works as a community and lobby group to communicate on behalf of some Tamil Canadians at the municipal, provincial, federal, and international levels. The Canadian Tamil Congress is largest of these organizations with 11 chapters in the country. The smaller organizations are geared towards organizing kin and village groups from Sri Lanka, as well as supporting various political parties such as the Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party and Conservative Party of Canada. Tamil candidates have participated in the political process representing various parties at municipal, provincial and federal level. In 2011, Rathika Sitsabaiesan was elected as the first Tamil-Canadian Member of Parliament, as a New Democrat in Scarborough-Rouge River. Previously, Logan Kanapathi was the first Tamil Canadian candidate to win election to large municipal government. He currently serves his second term as Ward 7 councilor in the town of Markham. Many Hindu Temples have been built by the community to cater to its religious needs. Hindu Youth Network, an organization founded by Eelam Tamils, is currently the largest Hindu youth movement in Canada with thousands of Hindu Tamil students and over 80% of the Hindu student groups in the country under its umbrella. There are also Christian churches that cater particularly to the Tamil community in Canada.
Tamil Canadians have run multiple campaigns encouraging the donation of blood to the Canadian Blood Services organized by various Canadian Tamil organizations. The community also undertook a recent campaign to help SickKids Hospital, which treats 100,000 children every year. These campaigns were organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress, with the support of many social and community organizations. Some campaigns and non-profit charities in the Canadian Tamil community have also been linked to the funding of the LTTE, a designated terrorist organization in Canada.
Canada has attracted a number of internationally renowned writers from Sri Lanka, including Shyam Selvadurai. Despite his family's relative privilege and urban base, his family left Sri Lanka because of the 1983 riots. Canadian Tamils have also contributed to the sports fields such as the formerly ranked Canadian tennis player Sonya Jeyaseelan and cricketerSanjayan Thuraisingam. Pradeeban Peter-Paul a Tamil Canadian table tennis player has been part of the Canadian National Team for the past 12 years. He was one of two Canadians who qualified to represent Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Soccer and cricket are two of the main sports played by the Tamil population in Canada. Events like the Tamil Eelam Challenge Cup for both soccer and cricket is held every year for the youth and the adults.