'It's the least that I could do,' says Tamil businessowner after $2M donation to UofT Scarborough

Ravi Gukathasan, CEO of Scarborough-based Digital Speciality Chemicals, made the donation to fund scholarships, digital archiving, and an annual post-doctoral fellowship in Tamil studies.

Donation from Ravi Gukathasan, CEO of Digital Speciality Chemicals, will help fund Tamil studies

Scarborough business owner Ravi Gukathasan has made a $2 million donation to the University of Toronto Scarborough to fund Tamil studies. (Metro Morning)

In the middle of Canada's first Tamil Heritage Month, a Scarborough business owner — one of the University of Toronto Scarborough's earliest Tamil alumni — has given his alma mater a $2 million donation to fund Tamil studies.

"It's the least that I could do," Ravi Gukathasan, CEO of Scarborough-based Digital Speciality Chemicals, told CBC's Metro Morning.

The donation will fund an annual post-doctural fellowship, scholarships, a programming fund, and a digital fund.

Tamil one of world's oldest languages

Helping support the use of Tamil — one of the oldest languages still in use today — is a cause close to Gukathasan's heart.

Originally from a farming village "with no electricity" in Sri Lanka, Gukathasan left with his family for England when he was 14, but still tries to speak the Tamil language whenever he can in Scarborough — the area he now calls home with his wife and two teenagers.

"My children laugh at me," he said. "I drive through Tim Hortons or a gas station, the minute I see a person, I know they're Tamil, and I start speaking to them in Tamil."

Tamil community 'becoming its own'

While some languages disappear, Gukathasan wants to ensure Tamil sticks around. And he thinks it will, with Scarborough's strong Tamil community "making a mark."

"The community is becoming its own in Canada," he said.

He also hopes the donation is inspiring for the next generation of students, who might look to Gukathasan as someone who went from a small village to running his own company.

"The main thing I'm hoping is they're going to say to themselves, 'Hey, if he can do it, I can do it too.'"