HOF103: Do Nghia

In 1979, when 24-year-old Do Nghia left Vietnam with his brother, his father and his father’s second family from the coastal city of Rach Gia, the group had to pretend they were in town for a wedding to avoid raising suspicion. After five days and four nights at sea, the boat’s 66 passengers arrived at the Malaysian shores of Terengganu and were taken to a refugee camp on the island of Pulau Bidong. 

Do’s father and stepfamily applied to settle in the United States; Do and his brother made the difficult decision to go their separate ways so that they could one day sponsor their mother, who had stayed behind. The pair were sponsored in St. Thomas, Ontario, but soon decided to move to Mississauga instead for better work opportunities. Indeed, even without a chance to go back to college as he had initially planned, Do found a machinist job that he occupied for 16 years, allowing him to save up and sponsor his mother to Canada.