Nfld. & Labrador

Tamil refugee rescuer honoured after 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, Gus Dalton helped rescue 155 Tamil refugees from lifeboats found drifting off the coast of Newfoundland. On Thursday, Dalton and former refugee Siva Mehanathan reunited in St. John's.
Gus Dalton and Siva Mehanathan meet again, 25 years after Dalton rescued Mehanathan and 155 other Tamil refugees from life rafts off the coast of Newfoundland. (CBC)

Twenty-five years ago, Gus Dalton helped rescue 155 Tamil refugees from lifeboats found drifting off the coast of Newfoundland. On Thursday, Dalton and former refugee Siva Mehanathan reunited in St. John's.

Dalton's fishing boat was the first to find the refugees, who had been floating in the open boats for three days. Over two decades later, Dalton was being honoured by the Canadian Tamil Congress, which also thanked him for saving so many lives.

Mehanathan says he will never forget the experience.

"Very very cold, no water, no food, nothing at all in the boat. On the third day, the fisherman catch us, otherwise we (were) going to die, so many people," he said.

Dalton's daughter Diane said the lives that those Tamils have since built in Canada is her father's true legacy.

"He's just delighted that they've prospered here in Canada, have secure lives and are contributing to our society. We're just so lucky to be living in Canada."