BEGINNING OF WATERLOO WELLINGTON BUDDHIST CULTURAL ASSOCIATION
It was the year 2010. We had a Buddhist monk who was born in Bangladesh, ordained and trained as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka residing at the Pommaram Lao Buddhist Temple in Kitchener. At a time when the Chief incumbent of the Lao temple was interested in sponsoring a monk well educated in Buddhism, another monk by the name of Venerable Panna Himi, who was also born in Bangladesh and educated in Sri Lanka recommended venerable Devamitta as a suitable candidate. When the sponsorship ran into problems with Canada immigration, on behalf of the Sri Lankan Buddhist community in the Waterloo Wellington area, I appealed to Ms. Karen Redman, M.P. for Kitchener for assistance. It worked and Venerable Devamitta arrived. We are thankful to the Laos Community, Chief Incumbent Monk of Pommaram Lao Buddhist Vihara who later passed away, Venerable Panna and Ms. Karen Redman for making it possible for us to have a Buddhist monk with a Sri Lankan background residing in our area.
Venerable Devamitta Himi, whose primary responsibility was to serve the Lao community, went out of his way to serve the Sri Lankan Buddhist Community. To us, he was “our” Bhante. We (Sri Lankan Buddhists) provided him with dana each and every day. He organized religious events for us at the Pommaram Lao Buddhist Temple. Whenever anyone from the community was seriously ill, he visited them in their houses or in the hospital, chanted pirith and blessed.
Venerable Devamitta, after about seven years of his stay in Canada, had suggested some members of our community to consider starting a Buddhist Vihara of our own without depending on the Lao Vihara. Among them was Asoka Amaratunga, who followed up on this suggestion.
On April 16, 2010, a Buddha puja was organized at the Pommaram Lao Buddhist Temple in Kitchener by Venerable B. Devamitta Himi to invoke blessings for the Buddhist and Hindu new year, in accordance with the Buddhist and Hindu culture. At the conclusion of the puja, Asoka placed the suggestion of Venerable Devamitta Himi to start a temple of our own before the gathering, and requested me (Ary Gunasekera) to lead the discussion.
I explained that the first step has to be a needs assessment brain storming session. No one has answers at this time. Decisions will be taken based on views and suggestions from the community. Two ideas placed before the gathering were:
Following persons, some of them who were not Buddhists, expressed their views and all of them supported the idea. Consensus was that, a Buddhist Vihara is a must and if possible to explore the possibility of making it a meeting place for all Sri Lankans.
Here is a list of names of those who expressed their views: : Sriyanie Modaragamage, Rohitha Perera, Brandigampola, Roshen Eparachchige, Padmini Passaperuma, Anthony Bernard, Udaya Wettasinghe, Sriya Gunasekera, Susantha Sooriyabandara, Chandana Sembakutti, Jayantha Vithanaarachchi, Priyantha Kulasekera, Ajith Rodrigo, Bhante Devamitta, Gishan Sooriyabandara, Nimal Fernando, Lakshman Galagedara, and Haritha de Silva.
A decision was taken to set up a committee to work on these suggestions. A committee was elected immediately.
Here is the first committee elected which was transferred to be the first Board of Directors once it was registered as a not for profit organization in Ontario:
Officers: Chief Advisor: Bhante Devamitta; President: Ary Gunasekera; Secretary: Padmini Passaperuma; **Assistant Secretary: Ajith Rodrigo; Treasurer: Udaya Wettasinghe; Vice President: Asoka Amaratunga.
Committee Members: Waterloo: Sriyanie Moderagamage, **Chandana Sembakutti
Kitchener: Dhammika Cooray, ** Anthony Bernard
Cambridge: Pushpa Sooriyabandara, Gihan Sooriyabandara
Guelph: Jayantha Vithanaarachchi, Roshan Epparachchi
** They resigned before the first meeting due to various difficulties they had.
This Board of Directors met regularly and during its term of office, a few very important steps were taken:
Aryarathne (Ary) Gunasekera