Rathika was born in Sri Lanka and came to Canada with her family at the age of five.
Rathika’s political, social, and cultural consciousness took shape early on in her life as her parents have been community activists who worked towards the advancement and injection of Tamil culture into the Canadian fabric.
Rathika attended the University of Toronto for the first two years of her undergraduate studies, where she was the Vice-President of the Tamil Students’ Association. She then transferred to Carleton University, where she completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree.
While attending Carleton University, Rathika served as a Vice-President of the Carleton University Students’ Association, as Caucus Chair of the New University Government, and as Operations Manager with the Rideau River Residence Association.
Rathika proceeded to obtain a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations from Queen’s University, where she worked with the Service Employees’ International Union as a researcher and helped the organization to successfully launch the “Justice 4 Janitors” Campaign.
Since the age of nine, Rathika has been making a difference at the grassroots level as a volunteer and community organizer in various capacities. Her inspiration for political participation stems from the student movement, the labour movement, and pursuit of social justice. The causes which are close to her heart include poverty reduction, affordable housing, access to education, employment equity, immigration, and the preservation of Tamil language and culture.
Rathika became involved with the New Democratic Party in 2004 by volunteering in the Ed Broadbent federal election campaign. Since then, Rathika has continued her involvement with the NDP in different capacities. In the 2008 federal election, Rathika was a canvasser and campaign manager.
Before her successful election as MP for Scarborough-Rouge River, Rathika worked at the University of Toronto Students’ Union.