Provided by Bill Laurie
Quebec: How the Vietnam War Brought Family Here
The Gazette, July 31, 2012

MONTREAL - Twenty-one years ago this summer, my wife and I arrived in Montreal from Vietnam with three sons aged 17, 10 and 8. We had no future in our country of origin. As a former officer in the old South Vietnamese army, I spent six years in a Viet Cong concentration camp and after the war was subjected to a lot of discrimination, as were other members of my family.

We came to Montreal as landed immigrants sponsored by my brother, a naturalized Canadian who had come here in 1973 as an international student, graduated from McGill University and went on to work for Pratt & Whitney. He brought in my mother and sister in 1980, another one of my sisters in 1981 and then me and my family in 1991.

As soon as we arrived, we rushed to look for work to support ourselves and raise our children. Although we found a decent place to live in Côte des Neiges, everything was so foreign to us at first – the weather, language, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment. Our main priority was a good education for our boys.

All three of our boys attended French public schools before university. Our eldest son graduated from McGill in 2000, and is now working in Ontario for the steel company Dofasco. Our middle son graduated from Concordia University in 2005 and is now working for Telus in the West Island. Our youngest son graduated from McGill in 2007 and is now working for an oil company in Fort McMurray, Alta. Looking back, we can’t help but feel extremely proud of them for their achievements, which they have earned by the sweat of their brow, with very little help from their parents.

As factory workers, my wife and I were hardly ever late for work; and almost never did we call in sick. I don’t remember ever being chastised for laxity at work; in fact, in my last factory job before retirement, at Helix Uniform Ltd. in Lachine, I was one of the few employees who got bonuses.

Throughout our working years, we never took long or expensive vacations. We made do with daylong excursions to local attractions, or those in neighbouring provinces. We did not drink, nor did we smoke. And neither did we ever do drugs; we only did windows!

Twenty-one years after we came to Quebec, my wife and I now look at our sons and see how through their hard work they are contributing to the general welfare of this Belle Province and this wonderful country, Canada. Every day, through this very same hard work, they are also expressing our sincere thanks for our new lives here. As elderly parents, we can’t say thank you any more concretely than that.

Du Van Trinh is a former South Vietnamese military officer who came to Montreal in 1991 and is now retired and living in St. Laurent.