By Tashi Wangyal (Montreal, Canada)
November 12th, 2011 was relatively a moderate temperature day in Montreal with slightly overcast sky and light drizzle rain. But despite the weather and the distance, the small Tibetan community of Montreal braced themselves to meet at OM Tibetan Restaurant located downtown for a potluck lunch to celebrate Dicki Chhoyang la’s recent appointment as Kalon for the 14th Kashag(Cabinet) of Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala. Most of the community members attended the gathering to congratulate and express their support as Dicki la takes on this key political position in the exile administration for the next five years. Although it’s been almost two months since she got appointed, but due to her busy schedule we were not able to find a convenient time to host her our long overdue luncheon.
Shortly before noon, the community members lined up with their ceremonial scarf (Khatas) to wish Dicki la well and success in all her future endeavors. As the members took turn to wish her individually and present their scarf, few older ones took their time to genuinely express some heartfelt wishes and hopes while quietly murmuring prayers as they make way for the next person. It was quite an emotional sight as many of them truly reflected unequivocal faith and remarkable gesture of anticipation and support for her and the entire new cabinet team. There were also some other strong indications that both young and old Tibetans have taken this new administration very seriously and that they have not given up their hopes in the aftermath of recent devolution of political and administrative powers by the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Subsequently, the president of the Association requested Dicki la to say few words to the community members on her past few weeks experience in Dharamsala and her overwhelming journey of Chitue and Kalon within a short span of time. She said she was equally surprised and stunned as many of us can imagine but at the same time very humbled for the opportunity as well. She thanked all her supporters for their unwavering support and specifically for those who have initially helped her pave the way to become a Chitue(MP) candidate during last year’s Election. After sharing few brief experiences, Dicki la reiterated on the importance of one thousand Tibetans immigrating to Canada within the next five years under the Resettlement Project and encouraged the local community to take on greater responsibilities to seek support and sponsors to bring as many displaced Tibetans from Arunachal Pradesh into Quebec as possible. Firstly, she said, "we can benefit from enlarging the size of our community and secondly, it will help foster better and deeper relationship with our non-Tibetan supporters during the course of the resettlement". She further emphasized the significance of maintaining and strengthening those ties even after the completion of the Resettlement Program to garner political support for our just cause in the future.
Finally, she told the community members to continue to treat her as their peer Dicki Chhoyang and not as Kalon if they ever decide to come and meet her in India during the next five years. And she ended the endearing note by saying “Even after I have become a Kalon, I am still the same person-Dicki Chhoyang who grew up here and known you all since I was young”. Everyone seemed amused and found her concluding remark emotionally touching and heart-warming to say the least.