A tribute to Ignatius Canagaretnam


I.T. Canagaretnam, I.T. or Canaga to his friends passed away on the 10th January 2018 in Colombo at the age of 80.

I.T. was born in Batticaloa and had his entire education under American Jesuit Priests at St. Michael’s College.

After finishing school, he joined the Police service as a sub-inspector and rose to the position of Senior DIG and was much liked by his juniors as well as seniors.

During his tenure as Chairman of the Police Basketball Committee he served on the executive committee of the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation (SLBF). In 1994, he was elected as President of SLBF. His association with SLBF continued as Vice President, Senior Vice President and Advisor until 2013 when he opted to step down.

He was a member of the National Olympic Committee and went as an Administrative Officer in the Sri Lanka Contingent to the 2012 Olympics Games in London. It was a small step on Olympic soil for I.T. but a giant one for all of us.

He was Senior Vice Patron of the St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa, Alumni Association in Colombo. He was not only a long standing member but its live wire and guiding light. The void created by his absence will be difficult to fill but his services will be long remembered.

All these are great achievements for anyone but more so for one hailing from the backwaters of Batticaloa, but I.T.’s greatness lies elsewhere – in his humanitarian activities.

He loved his family, his friends, his school and the Jesuit mentors who made him what he was and the people of the land of his birth Batticaloa.

He used his position, power and talents to help these entities when and wherever needed. No one who came to him was left unaided. He would do anything to the Jesuits and the school without being asked.

He organized all island basketball tournaments at Batticaloa to promote basketball and national integration.

When disasters like the floods, cyclone or tsunami struck Batticaloa I.T. would take the lead and rush humanitarian assistance.

The Government Agent Batticaloa had presented I.T. an award in recognition of his relief work in inaccessible areas like Vakarai. In Eravurpathu in the Chenkalady Division a road has been named after him in grateful appreciation.

That the Bishop of Batticaloa, the highest Church dignitary there, Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ponniah travelled all the way from Batticaloa to pay his respect.

He was unique and a role model and has successfully accomplished his mission on earth.

May the Good Lord grant you eternal rest.

His remains lie at 136, Kotahena Street, Colombo – 13 (In front of Kotahena Police Station)

Cortege leaves residence at 3pm on Sunday (14th January) for cremation at General Cemetry, Kanatta, Borella.

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