‘A special bond:’ Ottawa Vietnamese-Canadian community steps up to support Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Vietnamese Canadian Center immediately put out a call for help to its members.

In just three weeks, the Ottawa chapter raised $16,000.

“The Vietnamese people have a special bond with Ukrainian people,” said Can Le, the president of the Vietnamese Canadian Centre, who attended several Ukrainian rallies in Ottawa.

“It reminds us of our painful past,” he said. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 reminds us of April 30, 1975.”

That was the day South Vietnam was taken over by the North Vietnamese communist regime.

Le was involved in Project 4000, helping resettle thousands of refugees who came from Vietnam, most of them by boat. The program was spearheaded by Marion Dewar, Ottawa’s mayor at the time.

“That project after it was initiated it became the example for other cities in Canada.”

Since then, the center has done what it can to help those in need. The call to raise funds for Ukrainian relief also received support from the Vietnamese community throughout the country.

“We estimate altogether the Vietnamese community in Canada has raised $200,000.”

With many stores running out of Ukrainian flags, members of the Vietnamese community made their own, including a special scarf that blends the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine with the yellow and three red stripes seen on the Republic of Vietnam flag.

These, in addition to the check presented to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Le says it’s a small contribution but aims to stay committed to the cause, anticipating more help will be needed as Ukrainian refugees make their way to Canada.

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