Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, has released the following statement to mark Journey to Freedom Day:
“April 30 marks Journey to Freedom Day – a day to commemorate the refugees who fled Vietnam in the late 1970s and their struggles to settle as newcomers.
“War, deteriorating living conditions, international politics and external forces contributed to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese taking to the open seas in search of a new, safe home. Many lost their lives in the journey through drowning, illness, starvation, kidnappings and piracy. When they did land, they were often rounded up into massive refugee camps where they resided for years.
“Here in Canada, government, individual families, religious groups, charitable organizations and non-profits responded by sponsoring refugees to settle here. When they settled here, many faced difficult tasks of building a new home, learning a new language and making a livelihood for themselves. Their experiences were trying, and many faced barriers to equality and inclusion, which continue today.
“Recently, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on systemic discrimination and racism in our communities. We have seen a rise in anti-Asian hate activity. The Vietnamese community in B.C. has been impacted by this, along with other communities. That’s why our government is introducing B.C.’s first anti-racism legislation, but we know there’s much more to do.
“As parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, I reaffirm our commitment to stand together against racism and continue our work to make British Columbia more welcoming and equitable for everyone.
“Nearly 40 years later, despite the reality of systemic inequality, the Vietnamese community has found ways to flourish in B.C. and throughout Canada, and their contributions to our province have been significant.
“I encourage all British Columbians to join us in honouring Journey to Freedom Day. Let us take inspiration from the history of Vietnamese people in B.C., for all to learn from, and to acknowledge the work still to be done.”