The “Fall of Saigon” (1975) and the “Sino-Vietnamese War” (1979) were pinnacle moments for many Vietnamese people. As a result of Vietnam’s shifting politics and crumbling economy, many individuals desperately fled their homes in search for opportunity and freedom. Many fled by boat. Many perished at sea. As for the rest, many trudged their ways into foreign countries and worked towards creating new lives. While a large number of Vietnamese refugees found their way to the United States, others sought Canada for its cultural mosaic reputation. As a result, Vancouver has housed a niche of former Vietnamese refugees for a little more than 30 years.
Although Vancouver has been commonly known as a hotspot for new immigrants, many stories of diasporic community members have been generalized or glazed over. The purpose of this project is to bring light to individual stories. While Vancouver’s Vietnamese community is still young, formal information regarding the lived experiences of first generation Vietnamese-Canadians are limited.
Having said this, as a second generation who has enjoyed certain opportunities in life, I have realized the importance of collecting these stories—starting with our parents. By collecting, we are giving voice to the individuals who cannot speak or have not spoken. By collecting, we are able to remember their contributions to our communities and, subsequently, those after them. As time goes by, even though we may not realize it, their stories become our stories.
In the next few pages, you will find brief stories outlining my father’s experiences both as a Vietnamese economic refugee and as a new Canadian citizen. His stories are his own, but his truths are common among others. This is Nguyễn Van Nga.
Note: Please proceed to select the first chapter, "Life in Vietnam".