HOF059: Xay Bounnapha

Xay Bounnapha was a public servant with the Laotian government in 1975. After the occupation by the Communists, he was reassigned to other jobs, which were unrelated to his former employment. In 1978, he spent several months in a Laotian “re-education” camp.

He was released in the fall of 1978. Soon after his release, he planned his escape from the country with his spouse. The couple had two daughters whom they sent to stay with his mother-in-law. In November of 1978, with the help of relatives, the family managed to obtain a boat and navigated the Mekong River towards Thailand.

They managed to reach the Thai shore where they were escorted to a detention centre where they were imprisoned for entering the country illegally. They remained in the detention centre for ten days then were transported to the Nong Kai refugee camp. Xay Bounnapha and his spouse remained in the refugee camp for approximately five months. They were reunited with their daughters before leaving the camp.

During their stay in the refugee camp, the family was granted asylum in Canada. In May of 1979, the family arrived in Ottawa and settled in their adopted homeland. Here he pursued his education and then obtained employment in the field of networking technology. He retired several years ago, but remains an active member of the Laotian community in Ottawa. He founded the Laos Association of Ottawa Valley with which he continues to volunteer his time.