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Historical Milestones

Help us fill the gaps!

Scroll below for a timeline of key moments in the history of the Tibetan-Canadian community. The final version of this timeline will be included in the e-book. Please complete the Timeline Revision Form to signal any omission(s) or correction(s) needed.

Do you happen to know...

  • When/where was the first Tibetan restaurant opened? What was it called?

  • When/where did the first Tibetan Summer Camp take place?

  • Which cities did his H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama visit on his first and second trip to Canada? 

  • What was the name of the Tibetan dance teacher that toured Canada in 1980?

  • When was the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts (TIPA) inaugural tour of Canada?

  • Where/when were the first dharma centers of the Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions opened? 


Founding of the Trans-Himalayan Society (later Tibetan Refugee Aid Society) in Vancouver, BC.


H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama makes a global appeal for the resettlement of Tibetan refugees. 


Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau extends an offer of assistance to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama.

June 18, 1970

Canada's Tibetan refugee resettlement program accepts 240 refugees, of which 228 become part of the resettlement. Canada becomes the second nation, after Switzerland to accept Tibetan refugees. 

October 15, 1970

The first two Tibetans, Tsering Dorjee Wangkhang and Jampa Dorjee, arrive in Toronto. They go on to work in the Bata Shoe Company (Batawa, ON).

March 1971

Arrival of first group of Tibetans in Montreal (QC) [March 25], Lindsay (ON), Cobourg (ON) and Calgary (AB). 

May 1971

First group of Tibetans arrive in Belleville (ON). 

June 3, 1971

Second group of Tibetans arrives in Montreal (QC). 

September 1971

Second group of Tibetans arrives in Calgary (AB). 


Founding of the Tibetan Community of Alberta (TCA).

March 1972

First group of Tibetans arrives in Saskatoon (SK).

March 1972

First group of Tibetans in Winnipeg (MB).

May 1972

Second group of Tibetans arrives in Saskatoon (SK).


Founding of the Kampo Gangra Drubgyud Ling Meditation Centre in Toronto by Karma Thinley Rinpoche. 


With the assistance of the International Institute of Toronto, Karma Trinley Rinpoche publishes the cultural newsletter “The Snowflower” considered the first Tibetan newsletter in Canada. 


Founding of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Quebec (TCAQ).


Founding of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario (CTAO).


First visit of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama to Canada in: Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.


Founding of the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC), the first Canadian Tibet support group [Montreal, QC.].


The federal Department of Multiculturalism provides funding for a Tibetan dance teacher from India [Name?] to travel across the country teaching dance and music to Tibetan communities in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. This initiative helped establish traditional Tibetan dance groups in different parts of Canada.


First public statement of concern by the Government of Canada about human rights in Tibet.

March 10, 1989

The Tibetan four-day march, March for Freedom, takes place from Montreal, (QC) to Ottawa (ON). This march is organized jointly by the Canada Tibet Committee and the Tibetan Cultural Association of Quebec and includes both Tibetans and Tibet supporters.


Founding of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, an all-party group of Members of Parliament and Senators who advocate for Tibetan rights within the Canadian government. 

June 1990

First national Canada Tibet Committee conference held in Montreal (QC) with the support of the federal Department of Multiculturalism.

August 1990

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche bestows the first Kalachakra Initiation in Canada at the Karma Kagyu Centre [Toronto, ON]. 

October 1, 1990

During his second visit to Canada, H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama meets with Multiculturalism Minister Gerry Weiner during his eight-day visit to Canada and unveils the Canadian Tribute to the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa. 


A Song for Tibet, the first Canadian documentary on Tibet, produced by the National Film Board, receives the 1992 Genie Award for Best Short Documentary. 

October 1992

The first Canadian Tibetan Youth conference is held in Belleville [ON]. with the support of the federal Department of Multiculturalism.


Third visit to Canada by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama during which he visits Montreal and Vancouver. 


Tashi Rabgey, a member of the first Tibetans to be resettled in Canada, becomes the first Tibetan Rhodes Scholar. 


A delegation from the Canada Tibet Committee attends the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing and raises the issue of Tibetan women’s rights.


Ven. Palden Gyatso, former political prisoner and lifelong political activist, is awarded the Canadian John Humphrey Freedom Award.


Prime Minister Paul Martin meets with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, becoming the first Canadian prime minister to meet with the Tibetan religious leader. 

April 25, 2004

Fourth visit by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama to Canada during which he visits Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. He gives his first Kalachakra Initiation in Canada to over 7000 people at the National Trade Center in Toronto.

September 9, 2006

H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama is presented with honorary Canadian citizenship, thereby becoming the third ever honorary Canadian citizen following Raoul Wallenberg and Nelson Mandela.

October 17, 2007

The Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre is established at 40 Titan Road (Etobicoke, ON).

November 29, 2013

The first 17 Tibetans are resettled under the aegis of the Project Tibet Society; a project which aims to resettle 1000 Tibetans from Arunachal Pradesh (resettlement cities: Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary).

August 23, 2018

Bhutila Karpoche, representing the riding of Parkdale-High Park, is elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, becoming the first person of Tibetan descent to be elected to public office in North America.

June 17, 2019

Founding of the Chyssem Project.

September 24, 2020

Bhutila Karpoche's bill 131, the Tibetan Heritage Month Act, passed through the Ontario legislature with unanimous consent. Ontario becomes the first jurisdiction in the world to officially recognize Tibetan Heritage Month.

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