The Indochinese Refugee Movement: An Exploratory Case Study of the Windsor Experience
Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, thousands fled Indochina in small boats to attain political asylum in neighbouring countries. Canada played a leading role in the resettlement of thousands of Indochinese refugees, and a significant part of this national effort was led by the city of Windsor, Ontario. This article examines Windsor’s local efforts to sponsor and integrate Indochinese refugees into Canadian society. In late 1977, Windsor Mayor Bert Weeks established an ad hoc committee on Indochinese refugees. Together with volunteers from local faith communities and non-governmental organizations, the city created a vast resettlement network and assumed the sponsorship of several families, well before the wave of refugees arrived in 1979. As an exploratory work, this article provides evidence of Windsor’s pivotal role in shaping the Canadian response to the Indochinese refugee crisis and may challenge the national narrative that large Canadian cities led refugee resettlement efforts. This study is timely, as important lessons can be drawn from the Windsor experience.
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