Dhabisha Kohilanathan VP Social, MACES

Identity: who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others (source: Cambridge Dictionary).


Identity is what differentiates us and allows us to be unique human beings. Our identity is made up of a mosaic of attributes – our ethnic background, heritage, culture, language, core values and beliefs, personality. It is the unfathomably beautiful blend of billions of different identities that make up a community, a city, a country, and the world.


Twenty-nine years ago, I was born at the former Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. I am the daughter of immigrants; both my parents come from Jaffna, a town in the northern tip of Sri Lanka. I was taught how to read, write, and speak our official language – Tamil – at a young age. I was surrounded by and immersed in the Sri Lankan community. However, as I got older, my attachment to the Sri Lankan community loosened. For example, I very rarely spoke Tamil to the point that I lost my enunciation. The magic in all this is that while you may lose sight of your identity, it will never lose sight of you; it will always be there to remind you of who you are.


At the present age of twenty-nine, a wave of curiosity is rising within me, urging me to reconnect and rediscover my Sri Lankan roots. I now find myself wanting to hear my parents’ childhood stories, inherit traditional recipes from my mother and grandmother, and read books written by Sri Lankan authors. I long to do these because they are the keys to unearthing the identities of not only my parents, but mine as well.


Looking ahead, I am excited to start answering the following nerve-tingling, heart-wrenching questions, and I invite you to join me in this journey:


Who am I?

What is my identity?

How do I identify myself?

How is my identity going to shape this world?



Dhabisha Kohilanathan
VP Social, MACES