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2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
62-63 Elizabeth II, 2013-2014
senate of canada
An Act respecting a national day of commemoration of the exodus of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War
Whereas the Canadian Forces were involved in the Vietnam War with supervisory operations to support the aim of establishing peace and ending the Vietnam War by assisting in the enforcement of the Paris Peace Accords of 1973;
Whereas on April 30, 1975, despite the Paris Peace Accords, the military forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front invaded South Vietnam, which led to the fall of Saigon, the end of the Vietnam War and the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Government;
Whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that these events and the conditions faced by individuals in Vietnam, including deteriorating living conditions and human rights abuses, contributed to the exodus of approximately 840,000 Vietnamese people, who were referred to at the time as “Vietnamese boat people”, to neighbouring countries in the ensuing years;
Whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that at least 250,000 Vietnamese people lost their lives at sea during the exodus of the Vietnamese people for reasons that included drowning, illness, starvation and violence from kidnapping or piracy;
Whereas the sponsorship refugee program in Canada, assisted by the efforts of Canadian families, Canadian charities, religious groups and non-governmental organizations, contributed to Canada accepting more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees, among whom it has been estimated that 34,000 were privately sponsored and 26,000 were assisted by the Canadian government;
Whereas the major and sustained contribution by the people of Canada to the cause of refugees was recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees when it awarded the Nansen Refugee Award to the “People of Canada” in 1986;
And whereas April 30 is referred to by many members of the community of displaced Vietnamese people and their families in Canada as “Black April Day”, or alternatively as “Journey to Freedom Day”, and is, therefore, an appropriate day to designate as a day to remember and commemorate the lives lost and the suffering experienced during the exodus of Vietnamese people, the acceptance of Vietnamese refugees in Canada, the gratitude of Vietnamese people to the Canadian people and the Government of Canada for accepting them, and the contributions of Vietnamese-Canadian people — whose population is now approximately 300,000 — to Canadian society;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
1. This Act may be cited as the Journey to Freedom Day Act.
JOURNEY TO FREEDOM DAY
Journey to Freedom Day
2. Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the thirtieth day of April shall be known as “Journey to Freedom Day”.
Not a legal holiday
3. For greater certainty, Journey to Freedom Day is not a legal holiday or a non-juridical day.
Published under authority of the Senate of Canada