HOF066: PHAM Thi Anh Quân Lisa

PHAM Thi Anh Quân Lisa was born and lived in Paris (France) for 10 years before returning to Vietnam in the mid-60s with her family. However, in 1979, she had no choice but to flee Saigon by herself on a boat packed – ‘tighter than sardines’, with more than 640 people. At her third attempt, Quân Lisa began a seven-day road trip in a truck and then in a hatchback car packed with 13 persons. She survived a perilous 10-day at sea without food and almost no water. The escapees, violently robbed during three days and nights by 23 Thai pirate boats, suffered countless meticulously body searches. They finally landed on a Malaysian beach where they struggled for life during 10 days, under military secrecy. Six of the eight displacements were sudden and to unlisted refugee camps. Even in the official camps, the refugee screening process was heartbreaking.

Under her PhD student brother’s sponsorship, she landed in Montreal, Quebec in November 1979. Still, her days and nights were long and tough with full time work and part-time study. In 1993, after an MBA and a lengthy one year national contest, she became a federal public servant in Ottawa, Ontario. For many years, she worked at the international level, including Vietnam. Her last position was with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as Manager before retiring in Repentigny, Québec.