By Anu Sahota
So how long has it been since you saw a band of Vietnamese-Canadian children dressed in gold lame vests and Colonel Sanders style black bow ties performing a cover of a Mexican standard in a CBC studio? I thought as much, which is why this Friday's entry features The Saigon Kids, a group of brothers and sisters aged 7 to 11 who came to Canada from Vietnam around 1980, not long after the Saigon airlift.
The children were interviewed by Paul Winn for an August 1984 episode of CBC TV's The Canadians. While drinking A&W Root Beers, they speak about the difficulties of learning English and about missing their homeland, though all are resolute (in an 8 year-old sort of way) that they do not want to return to live there. They also talk about wanting more Canadian-sounding names - which I hope none of them went through with later in life. When I was in Middle School, many of the female boarding students from Asia took some of these Canadian-sounding names though I maintain that they must have consulted a 1940s issue of Chatelaine magazine since they chose names like Betty, Pamela, Shirley, Ethel, Henrietta etc. Every September at roll call I would dart my head around fearing I had been transported into an Ethel Wilson novel. My point is that the poor dears shouldn't have changed their names.