A letter from Katie Prentice

On Feb 16, 2021 Catherine (Katie) Prentice wrote to Dr. Filipe Duarte, University of Windsor, to comment on his Research Paper on archival media – Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail (1975-1985) that he wrote for The Canadian South East Asia Refugee Historical Research Project: Hearts of Freedom.

Katie Prentice worked at the Toronto Star in advertising from 1987-2009 and her brother Tom went to the University of Windsor for law.

Hello Dr. Duarte

I just thought to reach out to you how much I enjoyed reading your paper above. I was searching for articles about my father, and somehow came across your paper.

My Father John Do Trong Chu was mentioned a few times, as he was the director for the Vietnamese Association. How he met a refugee family at the Airport and also his recollection about that he had been working as a superintendent and compared this position to that of his former job as diplomat.  As a teenager, I didn’t always understand at that time, why we suddenly had some people sleeping on the pull-out couch in the living room (we were family of 6 sharing 3 bedroom apt) and nowhere else for guests to stay if they didn’t have a place to go. As well, xmas, easter and other celebrations had strangers sharing the meal. ” oh, you don’t have any family or friends here? come on over to our house” and I was not in awe of having strangers when I thought it should be family only.  Only as I grew older that I understood my father’s and mother’s openness to sharing whatever we had with those who were new to the country.  I do remember him speaking at our English church about sponsoring a refuge family and speaking way too long as part of the homily.

My father passed away ten years ago in April 2011 at the age of 88 and I recall his hard times trying to find a job in Canada, and his many hours supporting Operation Lifeline and working long hours at the Vietnamese association.

Your work helped me to understand much of the behind the work scenes and negative and positive points regarding the Vietnamese refugees and their struggles. My mother was one of the founders of Vietnamese Women’s association.  I worked briefly for 2 summers as an Indochinese Community Liaison Officer in 1983 and 1984, helping students in high schools with many refugees to help them look for summer jobs. Many did not want to continue their English, instead wanting to work to help their families.

In looking back, I would certainly say that the sponsorship overall was good for the refugees but also for Canadians overall, as most have succeeded in assimilation as well as being happy in their new country. The sacrifices that were made by parents for their children in order to come to a few country and leaving behind their possessions, former occupations was worth it.

I learned more about my father and some of those people that were mentioned in the article.  I just thought I would reach out and let you know how much I appreciate reading this article.The plight of Syrian refugees is not too dissimilar, but I remember about one Vietnamese family that decided to pay back by sponsoring a family.

Again thanks,

Katie Prentice