Canada’s 1976 Immigration Act added the category of convention refugee and enabled the Minister of Immigration to designate groups of people as refugees. In early 1979, the Government of Canada created the Indochinese Refugee Class for Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees. As well, the highly successful private sponsorship of refugees was introduced in the 1976 Act and became crucial in selecting many thousands of South East Asian refugees for resettlement in Canada.
Between 1975 and 1980 Canada resettled 69,200 of these refugees. During the 1980s many more came to Canada through refugee resettlement programs and family reunification. By 1991, there were 94, 255 Vietnamese Canadians, 18,620 Cambodian Canadians and 14,840 Laotian Canadians.
This project will ensure that the settlement experience of South East Asian refugees will be preserved for generations to come and becomes part of Canada’s historical narrative.
Hearts of Freedom will ensure that this period in history when Canadians and their governments acting together cooperated in the rapid transfer of more than 70,000 refugees from the former Indochina is preserved for generations to come and becomes part of the Canadian historical narrative.
- Preserve the historical memory of the refugees from the countries of the former Indochina;
- Document the experiences of those involved in the refugee settlement process to inform future generations of government and private decision makers;
- Gather cultural and historical materials, contributing to the documentation of the period’s events;
- Foster a network between Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian associations, Carleton University, Menno Simons College at the University of Winnipeg and participating community agencies to further assist in the preservation of the memory of these events;
- Ensure the widespread dissemination of the results of the research to the educational institutions and their students at all levels and in both official languages; and documents copied from those made available to the project by interviewees and by other refugees and their families who are willing to make historical materials available to the project. The interviews will be conducted with refugees from the former Indochina, both government-sponsored (GAR) and privately sponsored (PSR), who ere part of the exodus from South East Asia between the years 1975 and 1985.