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Manitoba History: History of My Family

by Joe Nguyen
John M. King School, Winnipeg

Manitoba History, Number 3, 1982

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct all inquiries to

Our Former Home

The story of my family starts in Vietnam. It is a backward country, with over thirty years of war, fighting, revenge, and killing. The Vietnamese had to suffer much misery.

Vietnam is small, but its population is larger than Canada’s. It has about thirty-five million people. In 1954 it was divided into two parts—North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The northern part is the communist part. It is called “Democratic Republic of Vietnam.” Many people have fled from communistic northern part to resettle South of the 17th parallel in the Republic of Vietnam.

Vietnam does not have much industry Most of the people make their living from the land. They grow rice, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, wheat, etc.

South Vietnam has new textile mills and plants for assembling radios, motor scooters, and other things. This shows that changes are taking place. These industries will help the people to attain a higher standard of living. This means that people are healthy, have plenty of food, a comfortable home, and a chance to be educated. To improve the standard of living takes a lot of work, a lot of cooperation and costs a lot of money.

The country is beautiful and exciting. It is covered with jungles and mountains with lovely flowers and meadows. Vietnam had many beautiful temples and pagodas. The Vietnamese have a strong influence from the Chinese. Its custom, culture and language have similarities.

My Fathers Story

My father was born in 1942, in a town called Cam Pha, North Vietnam. In 1954 my father’s family moved to South Vietnam. They fled from the communistic northern part to resettle South of the 17th parallel in the Republic of Vietnam.

They moved to a city called Saigon, South Vietnam. After my father finished third year in the University, North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam. My father was forced to join the army, and fight the North Vietnamese. My father spent nearly seven years in the army. When he went to a town called Sadex, he met my mother and got married in 1965.

In 1970, after a bloody fight between the North and the South Vietnamese, my father was shot in the leg. He was taken to the hospital for an operation. Since then my father hasn’t been an officer any more. However, the South Vietnamese government sent him to work as a civil servant. In 1975 the Communists won the war, and my family was forced to leave the country, to avoid revenge and being killed.

When we were still in the refugees’ camp in the United States, we had two choices—either stay there or go to Canada. Finally my father chose to go to Canada, because Canada was a country which had contact with Vietnam. And we are hoping that we will be able to sponsor two more of my brothers who are still in Vietnam. My dad also chose Canada as his second home for the new opportunities in life that it offers.

My Mother’s Story

My mother was born in 1943, in a town called Sadec, South Vietnam. When my mother was thirteen years old, she was sent to Saigon, South Vietnam to go to college because Sadec is a small town, which doesn’t have any college. After my mother finished college, she returned home and found a job as a secretary for the government.

After two years my mother met my father, and they got married in 1965. In 1967 I was born. In 1969 my brother Hieu was born. In 1970 my third brother Hiep was born. In 1971 my sister Hang was born. In 1973 my brother Hung was born. In 1970 my mother found a job as a teacher. She worked in a school named Van Hoa. My grandmother owned this school.

In 1975 we left Vietnam. When my mother came to Canada she looked for a job. After two months my mother started to work in a sewing factory.

When my mother came here, she had lots of trouble understanding English. My mother has been working for the sewing factory for nearly four years. Right now she is quitting her job, and returning to school to learn English. My mother hopes in one or two years that she will become a typist.

We are happy to be here in Canada. We chose Canada as our second home because it is a free country, where we can go anywhere we want. The nightmare in Vietnam is all over. The war, the fighting, the revenge, and the killing is passed. We wish to stay here for ever and die here too.

Page revised: 23 April 2010

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