HOF155: NGUYEN Van Thoi

At the end of the war in 1975, Nguyen Van Thoi left his life in the Vietnamese navy and returned home to help his parents tend to their family farm in Da Nang. But having to endure constant harassment, he decided to leave with a small group of friends in a boat heading east for the Philippines. At a refugee camp, Nguyen spent all his time helping out. He built shelters and beds out of wood for other refugees, fixed car engines with a local repairman and provided interpretation services when he could. Soon after he arrived in Regina, Saskatchewan and then Edmonton, Alberta, Nguyen would help more recent newcomers learn how to find their way around a grocery store, fill out application forms at government offices and prepare for their first job interviews. The commitment to community building was strong in those first few years. Once, when Nguyen was hired to travel to remote towns in the province to interview other newcomers from Vietnam, some had been so lost and isolated that they burst into tears upon meeting a fellow countryman.