HOF130: Nguyen Quyen

In 1979, Quyen Nguyen was a 14-year-old teenager accompanied his two older brothers aboard a boat heading north from the central city of Da Nang in Vietnam. The boat managed to outrun the gun-toting Vietnamese coast guards in a four-hour chase. The group lost its direction in the waters around Hainan Island, then got caught in a storm shortly after continuing on its journey. Later, their activities would cause the authorities to suspect them of human smuggling once they arrived in Hong Kong to seek refugee status. Nevertheless, after three months, Nguyen and his brothers were approved for asylum in Canada.

Arriving in Edmonton, Alberta, the three brothers spent the first few weeks adapting to the practices of their new country. They struggled with language barriers, ordering meals from a restaurant menu by pointing at the pictures of the foods they wished to eat. Five weeks after their arrival, the brothers stopped receiving government aid when the eldest found work at a meat packing plant. In time, Nguyen was offered the opportunity to pursue his secondary and post-secondary studies. He was determined to work as hard as possible to complete his education. He would credit that drive and the skills he learned in various leadership roles at the newfound Vietnamese association. His hard work accorded him an executive role at a major utility company.