HOF113: Stephanie Phetsamay Stobbe

As a small child, Stephanie Phetsamay Stobbe lived frightening experiences in Laos during the Lao Secret War. She remembered days when the family was forced to hide underground in their village in order to avoid the bombings and the fighting. Fearing for the lives of her children, her mother devised a plan to leave Laos. They fled across the Mekong River in a perilous journey through dangerous whirlpools. They spent some time in Thailand and were eventually placed in a detention center before entering a refugee camp. The family finally migrated to Canada in 1979.

The family arrived in Winnipeg in the dead of winter. A church group sponsored them and placed them in a small house next to a cemetery. The house had no running water or washroom and was heated by a wood stove. The family relied on their own resources as they received very little support from their sponsors during their settlement in their new community. After moving from there, they were embraced by the Mennonites and received the emotional support needed for a successful integration.

Today, Stephanie has a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies and is an Associate Professor in Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College (a College of Canadian Mennonite University) located at University of Winnipeg. She is an active educator, trainer, ADR practitioner, and leading expert on Southeast Asian processes of dispute resolution. Her current research projects include conducting oral histories of former refugees from Southeast Asia and their resettlement journeys; and examining European and International policies and their impact on refugees and forced migrants fleeing to Europe. In 2019, Stephanie has been awarded a Fellow of McLaughlin College at York University for her work on refugees, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding.