Archive | July, 2018

Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada (JPAA Canada)


Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada (JPAA Canada)

Posted on 01 July 2018 by admin


The Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association – Canada (JPAA CANADA), was formed in 1984.

The year was 1984, and the total number of Old Boys from SJC & SPC living in Canada may have totalled less than one hundred. With this backdrop, the history of the Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association (JPAA) in Canada can be traced back to a thought, that turned into an action that produced a result. Rest is history!

The formation of a joint Josephian-Peterite Old Boys Association was the brainchild of Old Peterite – Upali Obeyesekere. The thought originated in Toronto over a drink when St. Elmo Obeyesekere (Upali's dad) who is a proud Old Josephian suggested a Canadian version of Josephian-Peterite Cricket Series. Mr. Obeyesekere was a renowned cricket promoter in his hometown of Kurunegala along with Sir John Kotelawala. He suggested to Upali in the early eighties to start a Josephian-Peterite Cricket Match in Toronto. Upali made this happen in 1984, one year after his father passed away. As a tribute the main winner's trophy is named – ST. ELMO OBEYESEKERE MEMORIAL CHALLENGE CUP".

At the outset, he had informal discussions with an old friend who happened to be an Old Josephian – Benito de Silva. These two agreed in principle with the most practical methodology of a joint association, and set about picking a cohesive group to take the project from  concept to execution. The two visionaries turned to their immediate circle of friends who had attended the two schools. 

Upali and Benito decided to form an Ad-Hoc Committee to kick-off the formation of the first Sri Lanka Schools' Alumni Association in Canada. The two looked for candidates in Toronto who attended the two schools – SJC & SPC. This action led to the formation of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the Josephian-Peterite Old Boys Association (Canada) in 1984. In random order Upali and Benito enlisted Sunimal Perera, Roy Alles, Hamzee Hameed, Anton Perera, Jimmy Raymond, and Nihal Perera into the committee. Altogether the team consisted of an equal number of Joes & Petes (4-each) so as to strike a balance. Lyall Bakelmun, Raymon Lord and Lucky Ranchigoda were invited to join the Ad-Hoc Committee in 1985 and later years.

The Ad-Hoc Committee was totally committed to the cause. Most had come to Canada in the sixties or early seventies and had settled down well. Led by Upali Obeyesekere, the group were very passionate in forming the Old Boys Association primarily to help their Alma Mater and to create a forum where the alumni could meet and greet each other in fellowship and camaraderie and build a strong bond of friendship with each other. This group contributed in no small measure to the strength of the larger Sri Lanka expatriate community in Canada. Mind you, at this stage in time there were just over 5000 (five-thousand) Sri Lankans domiciled in all of Canada. This number has increased to just over 190,000 permanent residents.

The history is laced with the pioneering efforts of this core group who got together to form what is known today as JPAA Canada, which pioneered the start-up of the first Sri Lanka Schools Alumni Association in Canada. Second to follow was a joint Royal-Trinity-Thomian combination about five years later.

The original members of this select group were Upali Obeyesekere, Benito de Silva, Sunimal Perera, Jimmy Raymond, the late Roy Alles, Anton Perera, Nihal Perera and Hamzee Hameed. In 1985, Lucky Ranchigoda and Lyall Bakelmun were co-opted to the ad-hoc committee. In later years (1986-1990), Ian Joseph, Raymon Lord, Rohan Vanigasooriyar, Chris Cooke and Basil Gurusinghe were invited to serve on the committee. Care was taken to always ensure the group was balanced equally to justify the tag line – Joint JPAA OBA. It must be said that the formation of individual associations at the time was a near impossibility that would not have gone anywhere. In retrospect, the joint committee decision was a brilliant idea that grew with time and after twenty-nine years, JPAA Canada still remain a strong viable joint association of alumni from St. Joseph's College & St. Peter's College.

Standing L to R: Chris Serpanchy (Hony. Auditor), Bhanu Wijeyesekere (Membership Secy.), Hamzie Hameed (Social Secretary), Nihal Jayawardene (Sports Secy/SPC & Chris Cooke (Sports Secy./SJC)

As time went by, it was apparent that a formal association was the need of the hour with the growth in numbers of old boys from St. Peter’s College and St. Joseph’s College coming into Canada. In 1993, a ‘draft’ constitution and by-laws were formulated and subsequently approved giving birth to what is known today as the Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association (JPAA). At a preliminary meeting of the old boys held on Saturday, March 27, 1993 at St. Bonaventure Parish Hall in Toronto the old boys decided to continue to function as a joint entity and proceeded to elect office-bearers. The inaugural committee comprised of President Upali Obeyesekere; Vice-Presidents Ian Joseph and Anton Perera; Secretary Benito de Silva; Treasurer Srilal Perera; Social Secretary Hamzie Hameed; Membership Secretary Bhanu Wijeyesekere; Joint Sports Secretaries Chris Cooke and Nihal Jayawardene. Chris (Sandy) Serpanchy was appointed Honorary Auditor. The name Josephian-Peterite Old Boys Association (JPOBA) was subsequently changed to Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association (JPAA) at an Annual General Meeting held on April 8, 1995.

The end objective of the association is to promote goodwill and camaraderie amongst old boys living in Canada who studied in Sri Lanka at St. Joseph’s College or St. Peter’s College. Other objectives are to assist the Alma Mater in Sri Lanka on an ongoing basis and to provide a forum for the old boys and their families to meet and greet each other socially. The association was built on a solid foundation by its pioneers and the progression has gone on splendidly over the years. Interestingly, even though the numbers of old boys from both schools had increased the consensus has been to function as a joint alumni association. In fact, the Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association in Canada is the only known joint association of its kind within the two schools anywhere in the world.

For the record, the Canadian version of the “Battle of the Saints” cricket encounter was first played in 1984, at the picturesque Marigail Cricket Grounds in Orangeville – about sixty miles northwest of Toronto. The annual Josephian-Peterite cricket encounter was popular and considered ‘the sporting event of the year’ in the Sri Lankan community in Canada. In 1985, the committee was blessed by the presence of Rev. (Dr.) Fr. Stanley Abeysekara, Rector of St. Joseph’s College who graced the 2nd Battle of the Saints as Chief Guest. This was a momentous occasion. Over the years, the venue has moved to other locations within and around Toronto. Today, the Old Josephians meet the Old Peterites in the 40-over Premier cricket game while the 25-over Masters game is also played giving more old boys the opportunity to participate in the sport.

The Inaugural Dinner Dance “Joe-Pete Nite”, organized by the JPAA Canada took place on May 27, 1988 at the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. The event was an unqualified success attended by a large crowd of old boys, their families and well-wishers. Buoyed by its popularity, the dinner dance has become an annual event and attracts old boys not only from Canada but also from the United States of America. In 2007, the legendary band from Sri Lanka – The Gypsies provided music and attracted over 500 people. This perhaps is the largest crowd to ever attend a dance organized by the JPAA.

The Rectors of St. Joseph's College and St. Peter's College in Sri Lanka are ex-officio, Patrons of the Josepian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada.

From 1993 to present, the following have provided stewardship to the Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association in Canada. Upali Obeyesekere was inaugural president of the association in 1993, followed by Jimmy Raymond (1994); Anton Perera (1995); Robin Rode (1996); Hamzee Hameed (1997); Chris Cooke (1998); Bhanu Wijeyesekere (1999); Milan Gunawardena (2000); Nihal Jayawardene (2001); Lloyd Wijesinghe (2002); Rehan Goonetilleka (2003); Jeevan Pragasam (2004); Roderick Diaz (2005);  Victor Santhiapillai (2006); Ranier De Lambert (2007), Valentine Balasingham (2008), Roshan Navaratnam (2009), Christy Joseph (2010/2011/2012), and Upali Obeyesekere (2013/2014/2015), Christy Joseph (2016/2017).

Profile of the founder of Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada.

Upali Obeyesekere had his entire high school education at St. Peter's College, from the Prelim to HSC-I. It was a stroke of fate that triggered Upali to enter SPC as opposed to SJC.

In 1956, Rev. Fr. Arthur Fernando was appointed Rector of St. Peter's College. A few months prior to his appointment, Fr. Arthur met with Upali's dad and decided his fate. Instead of SJC, Fr. Arthur advised Mr. Obeyesekere to enrol Upali at SPC since the former was taking over as Rector. His dad and Rev. Fr. Arthur Fernando were close friends. This led to Upali Obeyesekere starting his high-school career at St. Peter's College in the Prelim A class.  Though an Old Peterite, Upali's loyalties were divided between both schools and this is one of the genuine reasons why he modelled the group as a joint association.  Upali's father St. Elmo Obeyesekere, his Uncles and many Cousins attended St. Joseph's College and excelled in Cricket, Rugby, Athletics, Basketball and Soccer. The family had two past cricket captains. Upali's paternal grand uncle Claude Wijesinghe captained St. Joseph's College in 1935 and thirty-four years later his cousin Brian Obeyesekere captained St. Joseph's College in 1969.

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Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada - JPAA Canada  (1984-2017)


Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada – JPAA Canada (1984-2017)

Posted on 01 July 2018 by admin






Benito de Silva & Upali Obeyesekere


The Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada (JPAA CANADA) was formed in 1984, at a time when there were less than 100 'Old Boys' from the two schools in Canada. It was the brainchild of Upali Obeyesekere (Old Peterite) who invited Benito de Silva (Old Josephian), a close friend from back home (Sri Lanka) living in Toronto to help form a cohesive group that would make this project a reality. Upali and Benito then sought out Old Joes and Old Peterites within their immediate circle of friends and then came up with a balanced team to take the project forward. Since the numbers were small, Upali wanted it to be an Ad-Hoc committee instead of a structured Non-Profit Corporation. This was the most practical format for the new association at the time.

The original members of this select group were Upali Obeyesekere, Benito de Silva, Sunimal Perera, Jimmy Raymond, the late Roy Alles, Anthony Perera, Nihal Perera and Hamzee Hameed. In 1985, Lucky Ranchigoda and Lyall Bakelmun were co-opted to the ad-hoc committee. In later years (1986-1990), Ian Joseph, Raymon Lord, Rohan Vanigasooriyar, Chris Cooke and Basil Gurusinghe were invited to serve on the committee. Care was taken to always ensure the group was balanced equally to justify the tagline – 'Joint Association'. It must be said that the formation of individual associations at the time was a near impossibility that would not have gone anywhere. In retrospect, the joint committee decision was a brilliant idea that grew with time.

But as time rolled by the numbers started to increase as more and more Old Joes and Old Peterites had made Canada their adopted home. This gave rise to dissension amongst the membership and also the formation of a meaningless rival group by a few Old Peterites in 2012 – people who were non-members of JPAA Canada.

The 2016 AGM held in April 2017 at Markhan Rugby Club was an unqualified mockery where a group of JPAA Members were known to consume alcohol prior to the meeting and behaved in an irresponsible manner during the sessions for reasons best known by the offending parties. It seems that a few in this dastardly group had their own agenda and conducted themselves in a manner that was un-Peterite and un-Josephian.  It was a sad display of adults behaving like children. A few, including five past-presidents showed scant respect for leadership and abused the intrinsic values of dignity and decorum. This was the day many passionate members of JPAA decided that 'enough is enough'.

Post-AGM, a couple of past-presidents intimidated the scribe (member) who was assigned to take down minutes of the 2016 AGM. The unholy request was to doctor the minutes but this failed due to honesty of the scribe who showed his personal integrity by refusing the request. False motions were spoken and written about by these two past-presidents that was tantamount to falsehood and absolute lies. The sanctity of JPAA Canada was laid to rest in a coffin due to such erratic behaviour. The pathetic  conduct of these two past-presidents joined by a few others with hidden agendas contributed to the eventual demise of JPAA Canada. 

Then in 2017, the Josephians too started to branch off and formed its own group – St. Joseph's College Old Boys' Association Canada. While all this was happening, the original JPAA Canada was still actively functioning with Christy Joseph, incumbent president of the joint association in 2017. The incumbent Hony. Treasurer & Hony. General Secretary were removed from office due to conflict of interest issues mid-year. The 2017 Hony. Treasurer of JPAA Canada cut a sorry figure when he surreptitiously joined the Josephian breakaway group as its Membership Director, while in office. The Hony. General Secretary was removed for initiating mis-leading electronic mail to members of JPAA Canada, without consulting or getting approval from JPAA President Christy Joseph. This was deemed 'professional misconduct'. 

JPAA Canada Select Committee comprised of incumbent President Christy Joseph, Interim General Secretary Aubrey Atton & Founding President Upali Obeyesekere

With this backdrop, a 'three-man strategic committee' was formed to review the new breakaway developments that had taken place during the year (2017) and arrive at a balanced decision on the future of JPAA Canada. Founding President Upali Obeyesekere chaired this 'special committee' with incumbent president Christy Joseph and Executive Committee Member Aubrey Atton.

It was important for the special committee to uphold the values of the alma mater at all costs. It was also important to recognize that the Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada was the first Sri Lankan Alumni Association to be formed in Canada. Also at issue were monies that were in the JPAA Canada Trust Fund that was "frozen" by the bank due to serious administrative issues arising from the improper action of two past presidents and the newly appointed Hony. Treasurer of JPAA Canada in the 2017 Executive Committee of President Christy Joseph. These people, it is alleged misled the bank as to the proper signing authority in relation to the JPAA Canada Trust Fund.

The bank in question conducted a forensic investigation into the legality of the 'Trustees' and came to the conclusions that a few members (in the Committee and outside the Committee) had been spokesmen for JPAA Canada and presented false and misleading information. Consequently, at a meeting with bank officials two past-presidents behaved in a pitiful, irresponsible and arrogant manner that caused the bank to decide firmly that the funds in the JPAA Trust Account will continue to be "frozen" and the matter was then escalated to the legal department of the bank. The bank made a final decision that the funds will be frozen until the trustee on record who has signing authority approves the release of funds – viz: Upali Obeyesekere.

The three-member committee looked into all aspects of continuing JPAA Canada as a joint association but realised that this was not practical due to the dissensions that had been created by the formation of the two breakaway groups. After careful deliberation, the special committee unanimously decided to dissolve JPAA Canada effective December 31, 2017, and send the funds in the JPAA Trust Account equally to the two schools – St. Joseph's College & St. Peter's College. This was a courageous decision that had the blessings of several long-standing passionate members of JPAA Canada in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ottawa, and Hamilton. All agreed that this was the best way to go. It was a classic illustration of 'when the going gets tough, the tough gets going'!

The question of dividing the trust fund monies between the two breakaway groups in Toronto was a definite 'non-issue'. It was important to do the right thing.  The JPAA Select Committee decided it was time to cease and desist any activity (operational, administrative and financial) since there were two breakaway groups formed in 2017. As such, it was decided to dissolve JPAACanada effective December 31, 2017, and divide the JPAA Trust Fund, in addition to the balance funds in the Operating Account to the two schools equally. This was the most fair course of action to be taken under the circumstances.                                                                                                                                                                                         

JPAA CANADA TRUST FUND (In Canadian Dollars) – The JPAA Trust Fund was created at the turn of the century to conserve funds from JPAA Canada fund-raising events such as "Fellowship Nite" and "JPAA Annual Dance". Word on the street is that the funds in this trust account were the bone of contention that may have led to the formation of the two breakaway groups. There were ongoing attempts to move funds from the trust account for frivolous projects in Sri Lanka that were turned down.

The trust fund was opened in a Scotiabank branch in Scarborough where the Branch Manager was an Old Peterite. In one instance the Manager of the bank showed Upali Obeyesekere and Christy Joseph a letter written by the then General Secretary and Hony. Treasurer requesting withdrawal of funds. Upali & Christy promptly took pro-active steps to close down the account at Scotiabank and move it to another Canadian bank to secure the funds. Strict instructions were issued that only the assigned two trustees are authorized to deal with the bank with regards to the funds in the JPAA Trust Account. This safeguard was necessary as it was alleged a handful of deceitful members were attempting to withdraw funds from JPAA Canada Trust Fund surreptitiously. Had it not been for due diligence of the two trustees (Upali Obeyesekere & Jeevan Pragasam), this could very well have happened.

In the case of Scotiabank, the branch manager apparently had been a classmate of the then Hony. Treasurer at St. Peter's College. This same bank manager made a startling revelation to Upali Obeyesekere and Christy Joseph. He claimed to have attended a meeting in new millennium where a group had gathered in the basement of a house in Scarborough and formed a breakway Peterite Association with the specific intent of giving the new organization legitimacy and authenticity to manage the JPAA Trust Fund. He also named a past-president of JPAA Canada (name withheld) as the 'president-elect' of this breakaway group that never took off after this illegitimate initial meeting. Probably this rebellious group realised it wan not that easy to fool all the people in this fraudulent plan and abandoned the idea. Had it not been for the due diligence exercised by the two trustees and Christy Joseph, the trust fund may have got hijacked at some point in time in the last 8 – 12 years. Upali Obeyesekere, Jeevan Pragasam and Christy Joseph should be commended for securing the funds of JPAA Canada and ensuring it was diverted to the alma mater.

The founding President Upali Obeyesekere (SPC) was entrusted to manage the "Trust Fund" along with co-trustee Jeevan Pragasam (SJC). A strict policy was established that disbursements from the 'trust fund' would be made only to the Alma Mater for specific projects. All donations from the trust fund would only be sent directly to the two rectors and not to the respective OBUs.

Accordingly, as decided by the special committee the balance funds in the 'trust account' were disbursed in two separate payments to both rectors equally. The first disbursement of $5,713.20 each was mailed to past-president SPC-OBU Roshan Dharmaratne who personally handed over the bank drafts to the two rectors on behalf of JPAA Canada.

Upali Obeyesekere handing over $2,167.03 bank draft to Rev. Fr. Trevor Martin in December 2017

Upali Obeyesekere handing over bank draft for $2,167.03 to Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel in December 2017.

The final disbursement of $2,167.03 was personally handed over to Rev. Fr. Trevor Martin – Rector, SPC and Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel – Rector, SJC by JPAA Founding President Upali Obeyesekere in the presence of SPC-OBU past-president Roshan Dharmaratne. This was done last December (2017). Specific projects were identified when the donations were made and Fr. Trevor and Fr. Travis both agreed with our direction on this matter. In total, a sum of $7,880.23 each was given to the two schools by JPAA Canada in 2017. This amount in Sri Lankan currency came to slightly less than a million rupees, per school.See below for detail report in pdf format.


This report is authored by Upali Obeyesekere, Founding President of JPAA Canada based on hard facts and documentation at hand. 



  • Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing. John D. Rockefeller 
  • Leadership is about doing the right thing, even if it going against a vast number of naysayers and mediocre people. N. R. Narayana Murthy 
  • With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. Zig Ziglar
  • The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader's need to be both stubborn, strong and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process. Simon Sinek


























































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