A very abridged timeline of the warm Canadian response to the Southeast Asian refugee crisis in the late 70s and early 80s. Shown at the 30th anniversary of Canada's Nansen Medal Award in June of 2016, at the Museum of History.Read More
Scattered across the world, the Boat People shaped unknown and alien places, into their new homes. Hear their stories of adjusting to their new surroundings.
In the late 70s, as the refugee crisis in the South China Sea became more dire and publicized, a group led by Rupert Neudeck formed the committee “A ship for Vietnam” to rescue the Boat People fleeing oppressive regimes. And so the Cap Anamur was born against the “express will of the German government”, but funded and supported by the German people themselves. The organization would go on to save 11,300 Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea, and exists to this day helping those in need all around the world.Read More
"The Cap Anamur was our saviour, it had given us a second chance at life, a rebirth. We had to repay the German people for their help."Read More
The Cap Anamur came to the island to help us find new homes. They helped us draw up papers for wherever we wanted to go. Now, at the time, we really only knew of the US, or Australia. Germany didn’t exactly come to mind!Read More
"Looking around us, in every direction, the sea stretched as far as the eye could see. All around us, just sea and sky. We began to lose hope."Read More
Laid out before me on my desk are rows and rows of pictures from the winter of 1979 to spring of 1980. Yellow sticky notes jot down faded memories of Vietnamese children and babies sitting on galley counter-tops, a child finding a galley cubby hole to explore, the flight dispatcher with a baby in his arms, crews waiting on the tarmac, and the families without family.Read More
Nguyen Huu Huan is one of the Boat People, braving the South China Sea himself during his own journey to freedom. He currently resides in Hamburg, Germany. Here is his incredible story aboard the humanitarian vessel Cap Anamur II.Read More
He wanted me to adopt him and his sister right there while we were talking in the galley, sitting on the tray units, of course! I had noticed him in my cabin because all the lights were off and the cabin in darkness, with all passengers fast asleep....except him.Read More
Here’s a picture of me at the refugee camp. I had a friend here that went to school with me, he had arrived almost a year before me and had an American family supporting him.Read More
Thirty-six years is a long way to go back in one’s memory. Especially my memory! How I came to lead an Air Canada crew on the first flight that became known as the “Boat People” charters out of Kuala Lumpur in 1979 – I'm not quite sure.Read More
This was such an emotional time for all entire crew. These people had been through so much and had to leave virtually everything behind. We wanted to help in any way we could so we brought them as many clothes and personal items as we could.Read More
Of all the stories generated by the Vietnamese Refugee Charters, here is a favorite encounter from my own experiences.Read More
Working for Air Canada as a flight attendant from the Vancouver base and participating in the Vietnamese Refugee Charters during 1979-80 was an exceptional experience in my career.Read More
From the relative comfort of our air conditioned aircraft I gazed at our passengers on the tarmac. Some were still on the buses while others stood without shelter under the blazing sun. I was soon to have my first encounter with some of the Vietnamese survivors who would become known as the “Boat People.”Read More
The time had arrived to board the rest of the group. It was suggested to board the mothers and children first but that was impractical since on no account did anyone wish to be separated.
The eyes of children were the most unforgettable sight I've ever experienced.Read More
I had never been to the far East, and so this seemed very exciting. We would be gone longer than any previous flights, and being together as a crew in a far more intimate way. We would be more dependent on each other, and represent not only Air Canada, but the country of Canada.Read More
A poem penned en-route from Tokyo to Malaysia to pick up refugees.Read More
Working as a crew member on what we called "The Boat People Charters" was without a doubt one of the highlights of my 32 year career as a flight attendant with Air Canada.Read More
'Ben Bo Luu Lac' by Nguyen Hung Son
This is a song written by a refugee that was very popular in the refugee transit camp named Sungi Begi at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Trying to remember 40 years ago, my first flight to Kuala Lumpur. We were so excited to be able to fly there and ferry a flight to that part of the world. What to encounter - we knew relatively little about the Vietnamese boat people except that they escaped from their homeland by boat and ended up in a refugee camp.Read More