HOF140: DU Chang

Growing up in North Vietnam in an ethnic-Chinese family that was labelled as traitors — her herbal merchant father had spent seven years in jail for writing and broadcasting anti-tyranny poetry — Du Chang found no relief when peace arrived in 1975. Life wasn’t easier for her neighbours, who resented Du’s family for not having sacrificed any of their five children in the battlefield. In 1978, when the war with China broke out and Vietnam adopted a policy to expel ethnic Chinese from its borders, Du’s family decided to leave. The boat they were on lost its way in Ha Long Bay and took about two weeks to reach a refugee camp in Hong Kong. The family hoped to be sponsored by an uncle who had arrived earlier in the United States, but a mismatch in names declared in the paperwork disrupted the process. Du’s parents decided to settle in Canada instead. They were uncomfortable with both church and government sponsorships. Once they were able to pay for their own airfare, the family was reassured that they could start a life in Canada without being indebted to anyone.