Remembering the Journey to Canada of Vietnamese Refugees

Remembering the journey to Canada of Vietnamese refugees (Transcript)

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The Fall of Saigon

On April 30, 1975, the end of the Vietnam War was cemented by the fall of the city of Saigon.

Canada recognized the plight of the Vietnamese people trying to escape and immediately accepted thousands of refugees, which served as a springboard for the resettlement of the “boat people,” as they became known.

Journey to Canada

In July 1979, the Government of Canada under Prime Minister Joe Clark announced that it would admit 50,000 refugees to Canada. By the end of 1980, Canada had accepted more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees, many sponsored by ordinary Canadians and private organizations. Due to the overwhelming success of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program during this time, it became enshrined as a fundamental part of Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program.

The Nansen Refugee Award

In 1986, Canada was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award (known at the time as the Nansen Medal) by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  For the first and only time, the award was presented to the citizens of a country – the People of Canada – in recognition of the collective work of government, individuals and organizations who helped Vietnamese refugees find a new home in Canada.

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