Pok Man Tong and Khoa Vo

The Boat People Art Installation

Team members: Khoa Vo (English and Criminology, SFU), Pok Man Tong (Urban Studies, SFU)

Project Description

The Boat People Art Installation is a response to the lack of widespread understanding of the Vietnamese Boat People’s history. The fall of Saigon in 1975 marked the beginning of a mass exodus of Vietnamese people, leading to a diaspora whose stories of hardship and bravery remain largely untold. It is not just about revisiting the past - it’s about recognizing the strength and resilience that have shaped the lives of these individuals and their families. One of our team member’s personal connections as a member of the Boat People community drives our motivation for this project. He was only about two years old when he and his family embarked on this perilous journey for a better future.

The Art Installation will feature a co-created selection of artwork that includes paintings, poetry, and personal narratives, each piece telling a part of the broader story of the Vietnamese Boat People. The inclusion of art forms like poetry and paintings not only provides a medium for expression but also makes the narratives accessible and relatable to a wider audience. It will have four sections: first, Life in Vietnam; second, the exodus and escape from Vietnam; third, Life in Refugee Camps; finally, Life here in the Lower Mainland. The project will also serve as an educational platform, especially for younger generations and individuals outside the Vietnamese community. Through this experience, the community will gain insights into a significant yet often overlooked part of Canadian and global history.