Archive for Journey to Freedom Day 2015

A Short Commemoration on This First Journey to Freedom Day

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

Journey to Freedom Day in OttawaA crowd of over 500 people gathered in downtown Ottawa today for the inaugural Journey to Freedom Day celebration. Photo via Julie Oliver/Ottawa Citizen

Earlier today, Canada celebrated its first annual Journey to Freedom Day, a day of commemoration for the fall of Saigon, the harrowing journey of the Vietnamese boat people in search of freedom, and their vast contributions to Canada following their arrival. The significance of this day reaches far beyond Canada, however, as Vietnamese refugees were fortunate to find a new home in many different nations across the western world since departing from South Vietnam on and after April 30, 1975.

We don’t have much time left before the day is over, so I will have to make this brief.

Today, we mourn the loss of the Republic of Vietnam to the Communist North. It is on this day, forty years ago, April 30, 1975, that the Northern tanks stormed through the gates of Saigon’s Presidential Palace, signifying the end of the Vietnam War. Without getting into the politics of it all, it is acknowledged as a day of sadness, panic, and heartbreak. On that day alone, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people fled the country in frantic hysteria, with the sea being their only way out.

It is on that day that the journey to freedom began, and the day that a new chapter in our history commenced. For the next two decades, two million people would leave Vietnam in search of a better life. Of this two million, two hundred and fifty thousand would not make it.

For those fortunate enough, new homes would be found in distant lands such as Australia, Europe, America, and Canada. They were the lucky ones, the survivors, and they are our parents or grandparents. It is because of them, because of that journey, that we all have this life today. They risked their lives, they braved the dangers of that voyage across the ocean, and as a result of their strength and courage, we all are blessed with this life and this freedom. It is for this reason that a day such as Journey to Freedom Day carries so much significance across the world. Though Canada is the first to acknowledge the significance of April 30, we are all connected by the stories behind this day. We are all Vietnamese, and we are all here because of someone before us, who was brave and strong enough to embark on that journey to freedom.

Whether we are in Canada, the United States, Australia, or Europe, we are all here for the same reason, because someone before us took that harrowing voyage, that journey to freedom. Thus, it is important that we all understand the significance of Journey to Freedom Day, and how, despite being from different parts of the world, we all share that same history, the foundations brought forth by that incredible journey.

On this day, we remember the fallen. The soldiers, the people, and the nation of South Vietnam. Furthermore, we, on this day, commemorate the courage and sacrifice of the boat people on that perilous journey, and in that, we must never forget how precious a gift freedom truly is.

Enjoy your Journey to Freedom Day, everyone.

Always remember.

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Canada Passes Bill S-219, Officially Marking April 30 as “Journey to Freedom Day”

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2015 by Ian Pham

Journey to Freedom Event, OntarioPhoto via Twitter @MarkAdlerMP

It’s official, folks. As of late last week, April 30 will be known each year in Canada as Journey to Freedom Day, a day of commemoration for the Vietnamese boat people, their long and dangerous journey across the ocean after the fall of South Vietnam, and ultimately, their new beginnings and incredible contributions as proud and free citizens of Canada.

Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Minister of Multiculturalism, and ardent advocate of the Journey to Freedom Day Act since its inception, issues the following statement:

“This year Canadians will mark the first annual Journey to Freedom Day, thanks to a Senate bill which received Royal Assent today.

“The Journey to Freedom Day Act, which was introduced in the Senate in April 2014 by the Honourable Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, designates April 30 as a day to commemorate the thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ Canada has welcomed since the end of the Vietnam War.

“Designating April 30 as an annual day of commemoration will give Canadians the opportunity to reflect on the journey of more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, to recognize the remarkable role Canadians played in helping them settle in their new home through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, and to celebrate the contributions of Canadians of Vietnamese origin to our country.

“I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the heartbreaking and inspiring voyage of the Vietnamese boat people, which is an important part of our country’s history.”

Mark Adler was the sponsor of Bill S-219 in Canada’s House of Commons during its lengthy process of becoming law. His hard work in support of the Journey to Freedom Day Act is another huge reason for its great success.

Here are some tweets and retweets by Member of Parliament Mark Adler on the passing of the Journey to Freedom Day Act:

There’s not much else to be said here, folks. It’s done, and it’s beautiful. The significance of this law echoes far beyond Canada itself, as freedom-loving Vietnamese across the world are rejoicing the passing of this law, and commending Canada for this great commemorative act.

Congratulations to Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, Member of Parliament Mark Adler, Defence Minister and Multicultural Minister Jason Kenney, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and everyone involved in making Journey to Freedom Day a reality. Thank you for all your hard work, thank you for making this possible, and thank you for your service. You just made history.

In all, congratulations to Canada for being the first country to pass this trailblazing legislation. From Vietnamese communities across the world, inside and outside of Vietnam, you have done us all proud!

Journey to Freedom Day Becomes LawPhoto via Twitter @MarkAdlerMP

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