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Tibetan youth leader narrowly misses out on Councillor Elections in Toronto

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Tibetan youth leader secured 9919 votes in the race for Toronto City Council from Parkdale-High Park (Photo/Chemi Lhamo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 28: Following an impressive campaign run, Tibetan activist and youth leader Chemi Lhamo came second in the race for a seat at the Toronto City Council for Ward 4 Parkdale-High Park, home to one of the biggest Tibetan communities in North America. The former student activist lost the elections by 1,230 votes; She secured 9,919 votes against incumbent councillor Gord Perks who bagged 11,149 votes.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting me thus far, I have not lost courage, [and] this is just the beginning. The situation inside Tibet is worsening, and there’s no way we can stop here. We must continue to rise together and fight for a world where everyone is free,” she told Phayul. The first time Council candidate was trying to unseat Gord Perks, who has been on the council since 2006, on the back of issues like housing justice, better transit, climate action, police reform among others.

“There’s a housing crisis, young people can’t afford a home, seniors are feeling the squeeze; transit is inefficient, biking safely isn’t an option, and instead of funding social services, the government resorts to increasing the police budget, so all of that accumulated to wanting a change. However, my last straw was the pandemic, where our communities of Parkdale Highpark were left to fend for themselves,” Lhamo further told Phayul.

Chemi’s campaign slogan ‘It’s Time to bring Community into Council’ meant that it was time to do politics differently, as she remarked, “We live complex lives. As much as the generations before had to face because of their Tibetan identity, their resilience and courage to show up for each other drove the motto of our campaign- bringing Community into Council. Intersectionality is key when addressing the challenges of a community because without an ear on the ground or lived knowledge, it’s easy for politicians to be out of touch.”

The Tibetan youth was named one of Maclean’s 50 Canadians who are making a huge difference in their communities. She was also a featured speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2022, and was nominated Toronto’s Urban Hero award in the Social Issues Category. Lhamo made headlines when she unfurled the Tibetan flag along with two more activists last year at the Beijing Olympics’ torch-lighting ceremony in Greece calling for a boycott of the “Genocide Games”. 

She was elected the President of the University of Toronto Scarborough Student’s Union in 2019, while fending off cyber bullying campaign from Chinese agents that included rape and death threats.

One Response

  1. If we Tibetans are receiving threats such as rape, death etc. outside of our motherland then that is enough for the civilized world what sorts of situation our brothers and sisters face everyday in Tibet itself under this curial CCP regime. Chime Lhamo is a young brave activist who did not bother overseas Chinese threats and continued with her Student leader activities. This young lady earned outstanding support from various communities and proved that in future she is potential to lead all of us. I congratulate her for securing very high votes from her constituency.

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