History and Resources for Asian Heritage Month

Hearts of Freedom: Stories of South East Asian Refugees

Hearts of Freedom is the story of the people of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, who came to Canada as refugees between 1975 and 1985 and Canadians who assisted them. The website, created by 170 interviews, tells the experience of refugees who suffered from the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge, surviving through the escape journey, as well as the experience of officials and other people of Canada who helped with their resettlement.

The exhibit is currently in Vancouver, then will travel across BC, and will be shown across Canada for a year along with the documentary film “Passage of Freedom”.
This is also the story of Canada’s first acceptance of non-white refugee groups. It is also the story of Canada’s creation of the refugee program which became the model for the world. The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was the first to recognize the private refugee sponsorship program, signing a Master Agreement with the government in 1979. Canadian national and local institutions and groups of five individuals began sponsoring
refugees by undertaking their resettlement responsibility. More info: https://heartsoffreedom.org


Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (2022)

This book is the exchange of letters between Robyn Maynard, a Black activist/scholar, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar/writer/artist. They talk about continuing racism and colonialism in Canada in the covid era. Komagata Maru Incident is part of the Asian exclusion history of Canada. Asian labours were brought in to build the nation-state of Canada but were oppressed and eventually denied entry.

This Asian exclusion policy ended in the 70s with the acceptance of South East Asian refugees. However, systemic racism continues. The Canadian state was built on the dispossession of the land of Indigenous peoples, their sovereignty, and humanity. Black people were brought to the continent as slaves. During Asian exclusion and even after South East Asian refugee acceptance, Indigenous peoples continue to suffer as their sovereignty on their territories has
been denied to this day. Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson discuss Canada’s realities and talk about our decolonization journey ahead.


*Thank you Hisako from our IBPOC caucus for these resources. 


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