Ambedkar Mission Toronto is a group of Canadians, non-resident Indians, and resident Indians who believe in the teachings of Buddha and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s thoughts. We meet regularly at our Buddha Vihara to preach, promote and advance the spiritual teachings of Buddhist faith based on the book “Buddha & His Dhamma” by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and other schools of Buddhism, practicing the religious observances, teaching meditation and doctrines associated with that faith.
Ambedkar Mission was originally started in Vancouver, Canada in 1978 as Ambedkar Memorial Association. After one year Mr. Darshan Chaudhary moved from Vancouver to Toronto in June 1979 and Ambedkar Mission was started in the same year with the main objective of propagating the religion and social philosophy of Babasaheb Dr. B.R Ambedkar. Yogesh Varhade was the chief organizer at that time. Late Mr. Nasib Sallan was its first president along with Ram Parkash Rahul as secretary, Mohan Verdi as Treasurer, late Jit Lal Jhamat as cultural secretary and Darshan Chaudhary as joint secretary. Gian Kaura, Mark Vaharade and Banta Ram Jakkhu were other founding members of the mission. Weekly Buddha Puja (Service) started at the Toronto Maha Vihara in Scarborough as the mission did not have its own place of worship.
In September 1979 three families of Nasib Sallan, Mohan Verdi and Darshan Chaudhary embraced Buddhism at a ceremony held at Toronto Maha Vihara (Sri Lankan) Scarborough which was officiated by Venn. Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan and Chander Bodhi from England, Bhante Punna Ji, Bhante Dhamika and Bhante Seelam of Toronto Maha Vihara. At that time a talk on the essence of Buddhism by Venn. Bhante Anand Kausalyyan was also arranged at the University of Toronto.
In April 1980, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar birthday was celebrated in Toronto for the first time and David Weatherhead, M.P. Scarborough west attended the ceremony with message sent by the Minister of multiculturalism federal govt. Ottawa. Ambedkar Mission participated in the first Buddha Jayanti (Birthday) organized at the City Hall by newly constituted Toronto Buddhist Federation of which the Ambedkar Mission was the member along with other forty Buddhist Organizations-temples. At that occasion the Mission distributed five hundreds copies of the booklet “Buddha and the future of his religion” by Dr. B.R Ambedkar.
In 1981 late Jit Lal Jhamat, Parkash Rahul and Gian Kaura along with their families were also initiated into Buddhism at the Diksha Day in October. From this time onward mission had three annual functions regularly every year namely Dr. B.R Ambedkar’s birthday in April, and Parinirvana day in December. In addition to these the mission likewise every year celebrated Buddha’s birthday organized by Toronto Buddhist Federation which later on transferred itself into the Buddhist Council of Canada. In that year Mohan Verdi also financed the publication of the book on the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Punjabi for Punjabi readers.
Ambedkar Mission Inc. was incorporated by letters patent issued by the Province Of Ontario on September 23rd, 1982 and Supplementary Letters Patent were issued on April 7th 2006 to change the corporate name to Ambedkar Mission and to change the objects of thereof to accord with objects set forth herein as follows to advance the Buddhist faith (Dhamma) by:
Practicing, preaching and teaching its religious tenets, doctrines, observances and cultural based on the book "Buddha and his Dhamma" by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and other schools of Buddhism.
Establishing, maintaining and supporting a temple or mission, with services conducted in accordance with its associated tenets and doctrines;
Supporting and maintaining missionaries in order to propagate the faith;
Establishing and maintaining a religious school of instructions for children, youths and adults; and
Maintaining a library of books, audio and video cassettes, photographs and other associated material that directly advance objects a –d above.
At the celebration of Ambedkar’s birthday in 1982, the mission started a bi-annually magazine namely the outcry-voice for the oppressed. This magazine continued up to 1991 and then stopped due to lack of funds when the special last number “One Hundreds for Freedom” was published by the mission in the form of a small booklet. However the mission continued all the usual activities and annual functions at the Toronto Maha Vihara. In 1984 mission supported and An Ambedkarite scholar and director WRCP New Delhi to present the case of the untouchables before UN commission on human rights in Geneva.
In March 1993 the mission conducted a seminar on Ambedkar Social Justice and peace at U of T in the south Asians study department. Professor T. Joseph O’Connell was the coordinator, Prof. Paul Yonge from McMaster University, Prof. Richard Hay from McGill University and Dr. Barbara Joshi presented papers on various subjects covering the contribution made by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in various fields.
In 2000 mission bought a place in Scarborough at 49-850 Tapscott Road for the purpose of meeting the religious and cultural needs of the community and was sold in January 2009 . In 2006 a Buddhist Monk was sponsored by the mission to conduct all the regular activities at the temple. In June 2011 Ambedkar Mission bought another new place in Scarborough at 328 Passmore Avenue to conduct all the social and religious activities.