Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Tamil: இராதிகா சிற்சபை ஈசன்) is a Tamil member of Canadian parliament for the New Democratic Party, representing Scarborough—Rouge River. She is the first person of Tamil-origin in the world to be elected to a federal parliament, outside of Sri Lanka or India, and the first female member of parliament ever elected in her constituent.
Sitsabaiesan was born on 23 December 1981 in Achchuveli, Sri Lanka, a small town in the island nation’s peninsula of Jaffna in Northern Province.She has three older sisters. At the age of five, Sitsabaiesan and her family emigrated to Canada.
Sitsabaiesan grew up in Mississauga, west of Toronto.When her father was disabled following a workplace accident her mother had to give up her nursing studies to work in a warehouse to support the family. Sitsabaiesan attended the University of Toronto for the first two years of her higher education. She served as the Vice President of the Tamil Students’ Association while at the university. For the next two years she attended Carleton University, and completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree. At Carleton Sitsabaiesan served as a Vice President of the Carleton University Students’ Association, Caucus Chair of the New University Government and Operations Manager of the Rideau River Residence Association. Sitsabaiesan then transferred to Queen’s University from where she obtained a Master’s degree in Industrial Relations.
Sitsabaiesan has been heavily involved in community and advocacy work. She is a member of the Malvern Community Association, a residents’ group in Malvern, Toronto. She was employeed with the University of Toronto Students’ Union before she was elected to Parliament.