Many found refuge and acceptance in Canada
By JASON MILLER, SUN MEDIA
5 May 2008
Hundreds from Toronto’s Vietnamese community converged on Nathan Phillips Square yesterday to celebrate their road to freedom.
The event was held to mark the 33 years Vietnamese have found refuge and acceptance in Canada.
After 1975, when communist forces took over their country and forced them out, a wave of Vietnamese found their way to Canadian cities.
Many in attendance yesterday were dressed in army fatigues, while others carried enormous yellow and red flags.
“The flag is a symbol of our heritage and freedom that we must preserve,” said Brenda Vo, who escaped Vietnam by boat in 1980 and has lived in Canada for more than 20 years.
She described her experience as horrific, declaring that democracy died in Vietnam when the communist regime took over. Those who refused to become communist were thrown in prison and the only way out was to escape by boat — a route that cost thousands their lives, she said.
“We appreciate Canada for giving us a chance to rebuild our lives,” said Vo. She learned English by day and washed dishes at night to make ends meet after arriving in Canada.
Phong Nyuyen — a 36-year-old captain in the South Vietnamese army when the communists took over — said he was captured and imprisoned for 10 years. “This day is a chance to remember those who have lost their lives fighting for freedom,” he said.
It was almost 25 years before he was finally re united with his wife and kids in Toronto in 1999.
“It’s a different lifestyle here,” he said. “But we have learned to adapt to our environment.”