HOF055: NGUYEN Bui Thi Mui

On the eve of the fall of Saigon, Bui Nguyen Thi Mui was nine months pregnant and faced a harrowing decision. She could either stay and deliver her baby at an abandoned hospital without nurses nor doctors or leave and give a risky birth on a helicopter or at sea. In the chaos at the Port of Saigon, Bui, her husband, and their two-year-old boy managed to climb onto a cargo ship named the Truong Xuan which left Vietnam with almost 4,000 passengers.

The memory of captain Pham Ngoc Luy having to turn the ship around to rescue a passenger who had fallen overboard still moves Bui to tears to this day. Bui eventually gave birth to a baby girl as the ship encountered engine troubles and was flooded. A cargo ship, the Danish Clara Maersk answered the ship’s SOS signals and was able to rescue the passengers. The rescue ship arrived in Hong Kong where the passengers were assigned to different refugee camps. Bui and her family would later settle in Québec City and Montréal where they opened a pharmacy and employed successive waves of immigrant newcomers.

Bui’s contribution to Canada would later garner her many awards, including the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers that she received from the Governor General in 2015 for 30 years of integrating newcomers to Canada. She is also very proud to be a leading pharmacist who has trained many immigrants to become pharmacists in Québec. In doing so, Bui was the 2nd woman and the first immigrant to receive the Hygeia award from the Canadian Pharmacists Association in Québec.