Vietnamese community celebrates Project 4000
Published Sunday, May 31, 2009 7:41PM EDT
Ottawa's Vietnamese community marched through rainy weather Sunday afternoon to mark the 30th anniversary of the capital's response to the "Boat People" refugee crisis.
About one million people fled war-ravaged Vietnam between 1975 and the early 1980s, mostly in dangerous, overcrowded boats on the South China Sea that gained worldwide attention.
Many were ethnic Chinese businesspeople fleeing South Vietnam after being taken over by the Communist North. Others had supported the previous South Vietnamese regime.
Ottawa Mayor Marion Dewar created Project 4000 in 1979 to welcome 4,000 boat people to the capital through private sponsorship.
Prime Minister Joe Clark followed suit, allowing 50,000 Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees fleeing Communist regimes.
"When we first stepped on our boat we were not sure about our future," said Diep Trinh. "Life in Canada and Vietnam is very different, like hell and heaven."
An Ottawa museum remembering the exodus to Canada is planned. A dedication at the future site was held Sunday.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Stefan Keyes