Mural commemorating Vietnamese Boat People unveiled in Winnipeg

A portrayal of the Vietnamese Boat People's perilous journey to Canada now graces the side of a Winnipeg building owned by one of the men in the mural.

Tam Nguyen's flight from homeland painted on Joy's Convenience

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      A portrayal of the Vietnamese Boat People's perilous journey to Canada now graces the side of a Winnipeg building owned by one of the men in the mural.

      Take Pride Winnipeg unveiled its latest mural Thursday at Joy's Convenience at 248 River Ave.

      The mural, the latest in Take Pride's initiative to beautify the city and deter graffiti, is displayed on a building owned by Tam Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee who came to Canada in 1980.

      Hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, with approximately 60,000 eventually reaching Canada. Those who fled by boat were referred to as the Boat People. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the migration.

      The mural, painted by artist Sarah Collard, is a tribute to Nguyen's journey to Canada, as well as the Vietnamese community in Winnipeg. When approached by Take Pride Winnipeg to have a mural painted on his convenience store, Nguyen felt it was important to pay tribute to those who came to Canada to find a better life.

      Tam Nguyen stands beside a likeness of himself receiving his Canadian Citizenship in 1985. (Sara Calnek)
      "I'm really happy we have Take Pride, to take this and have a chance for people to tell their story. What happened to them, and what has been in their past," Nguyen said. "How hard it is to get out and to find a way to get a better life."

      The mural starts with scenery of a Vietnamese rice field, moves to a group of refugees in a boat, then the refugees arriving on the shore, and finishes with a depiction of Nguyen receiving his Canadian citizenship.

      Tom Ethans, executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg, said it's a great addition to the murals in Winnipeg.

      There are more than 500 murals in and around the city, he said.

      Take Pride Winnipeg executive director Tom Ethans (right) thanks Tam Nguyen for sharing his story and bringing his vision into the mural on Joy's Convenience. (Sara Calnek)
      "It's fabulous. It really brings so much colour and vibrancy to the wall, and really tells a great story. I think it's a great testament to the people from Vietnam who came to Canada and how proud they are to be Canadians now."

      Take Pride Winnipeg has commissioned more than 200 murals since the initiative began in 1994. The organization partners with the City of Winnipeg, Business Improvement Zones and individual businesses to fund the projects.

      This mural was funded in partnership with Petersen King Law and the office of Coun. Jenny Gerbasi.

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