Mr. Asoka Weerasinghe

Mr. Asoka Weerasinghe hailing from Colombo had his education at Nalanda College. He left for London to pursue his higher studies in geology. He is a person of many talents, as an award winning published poet, scientist, museologist, artist, wood carver, pianist, ballroom dancer, exhibit designer, university lecturer, political activist, diplomat, to name a few that brought him accolades.

As a Poet he has published 19 books of which three have won major prizes in Sri Lanka, UK and Canada. Several of his poems have been published in poetry anthologies and literary magazines in England, Wales, Sweden, Canada, Germany, US, Indian and Sri Lanka. He was the guest poet at the International Poetry Festival in Austin, Texas, and was Poet-in-Residence at the Dylan Thomas Sung and Word Festival at his birth house, in Swansea, Wales. He actually occupied this famous Welsh poet’s bedroom during the festival. Asoka was the founder of the Gloucester Spoken Art Poetry & Storytelling Series in Ottawa. His long poem Trail of Mankind was adapted as the storyline for the Orientation Hall at the National Museum of Man, in Ottawa. In 2003, he was awarded the ‘City of Ottawa’s Appreciation Award for Arts and Culture.’

As a scientist he obtained his B.Sc Honours degree in Geology at the University of Swansea in Wales, and has an M.Sc from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, in palaeontology and stratigraphy. He was invited by the National Museums of Canada to join the design team as Head of Thematic Research to create 15 new exhibition halls in natural and human sciences at the Victoria Memorial Museum in Ottawa. Asoka also wrote part of the chapter on the geology and biogeography of Sri Lanka in the book, “The Mammals of Sri Lanka” by Asoka Yapa and Gamini Ratnavira (both past SLF Recipients).

As a diplomat Mr. Weerasinghe served our country as Deputy High Commissioner for the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa (1989-94). Asoka was a very assertive, courageous and an effective campaigner to counter attacking the relentless propaganda by Sri Lanka’s enemies in Canada, through letters to Editors of leading newspapers across Canada, which got published 56 times of an attempted 64, and meetings.

While at the High Commission, Asoka promoted Sri Lanka’s image through the community TV with his production of half-hour programs of – Songs of Sri Lanka, public talks on Human Rights, Buddhism and Sri Lankan Masks, and spoke to several Ottawa Public School class children on Sri Lanka complemented with his private collection of his own artefacts, his poetry and videos. He provided research material and his political writings on the Eelam War from his private library to University students across Canada for their graduate theses on Sri Lanka.

Asoka has been a relentless fighter against the LTTE propaganda to uphold the good name of Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2013, through letters to newspapers, TV interviews and panel discussions, and presentations to Parliamentary Sub-Committees on Immigration, Terrorism and Public Safety. He coached three High School students from British Columbia for their assigned country presentation of Sri Lanka during their Summer School Commonwealth Parliament in Ottawa, and took back with them the trophy for the best country presentation.

As a politician, Mr. Weerasinghe sought nomination for the Conservative Party for public office as a Member
Today, Mr. Asoka Weerasinghe is enjoying his retirement, still ballroom dancing once a week with his wife Jeannie, yet still ever ready to defend Sri Lanka’s good name and reputation when he sees distortions, deliberate or otherwise in the print media. He also leads the Serene Lunch Hour Buddhist Meditation sittings every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery in Ottawa.