HOF006: Dourn Sam

Douen Sam was born in 1953 in Battambang, Cambodia.  Douen was the child of a family with a military history. The family hid this information from the Khmer Rouge, as they feared for their lives. Concerned about the prospect of dealing with a Communist regime, he and a fellow villager escaped to the Thai border. During their exodus, he and his companion witnessed first hand the horrors of land mines, the frequent result of death experienced by some of his own party.

Thai officials suspected him of being a traitor, once he arrived in Thailand. They detained him as a prisoner of war. He was accused of being affiliated with the Khmer Rouge. He was tortured and beaten near death. He was eventually sent to a local hospital where he met with members of the American Red Cross who eventually succeeded in negotiation his release into their custody.

In 1978, he applied for refugee status with Canadian Immigration officials. Three months later, he found himself on a plane flying to Ottawa. He preserves fond memories of his relationships with the friends he made during his early years in Canada. He has since married and is the father of two children.