A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 16: Brothers From Vietnam: The Story of the Lais and the Bessais
Directed by Carl Bessai

SYNOPSIS

Filmmaker Carl Bessai gives a first-person account of sponsoring a family of Vietnamese "Boat People" while he was growing up in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, and their relationship over the years.

KEY IDEAS

  • Flight of refugees
  • Resettling in a new land
  • The importance of family

KEY TERMS

  • Boat People
  • Indochinese
  • Refugee
  • Resettlement
  • Immigration Act

OBJECTIVES

  • To understand why refugees leave their native countries
  • To learn the story of the Vietnamese "Boat People"
  • To appreciate the importance of family in the immigrant experience

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

  1. Visit your local library and copy old newspaper and magazine articles describing the plight of the "Boat People" in 1978-1979. Discuss how the media and the international communities responded at the time.

  2. Write a story in the first-person describing the experience of being a "Boat Person" and then settling in Canada as a refugee.

  3. Debate the following issue: Canada has an international and humanitarian responsibility to accept as many refugees as possible, and to help them successfully resettle. versus Canada cannot afford to spend money on refugees when the government is struggling to pay for education, homelessness and healthcare.

  4. While most immigrants choose to come to Canada, many have been forced to flee their homelands for political, religious or ethnic reasons. It is only recently, however, that Canada has recognized refugees as a specific immigration class. Explore the differences between immigrants and refugees throughout our history. Choose three groups of immigrants and three groups of refugees and list five reasons why you think they fit into these categories.

  5. Research Indochinese cuisine and utensils. Look into where you would buy the necessary ingredients in your city. Plan a full-course menu and prepare a few dishes for your class to taste-test.