Photograph of Ming Siu at work at Calgary Transit, 2005

Photograph of Ming Siu at work at Calgary Transit, 2005.

Since 1991 Ming Siu has worked as a Heavy Duty Mechanic with Calgary Transit.

Glenbow Museum
Glenbow Museum, Ming Siu
2005
HONG KONG
CHINA
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
VIET NAM
© 2005, Glenbow Museum/Ming Siu. All Rights Reserved.


My Vietnamese name is Tieu Minh Phat.

[In] 1978, China and Vietnam started to fight, and the Vietnamese government said that all Chinese people must leave Vietnam. They took away our jobs, our pay, our school, and we had to leave by a certain date. We took a chance at sea.

We followed the coast to Hong Kong, stopping occasionally for food or water, and the journey took one month. We took only the clothes that we were wearing. We had no extra money or gold. We never thought of the danger, we only looked forward to the future and the opportunity.

We arrived in Canada on January 14, 1980…

I was determined to improve my English and get a job as a mechanic.

[But] even with my new [motor mechanics] certificate, I didn’t have any Canadian experience so I still could not get a job.

Finally, in 1991, I joined Calgary City Transit as a Journeyman I – Heavy Duty Mechanic.

Through all the ups and downs, I have always worked for success for my family, and to reach my dream.

My Vietnamese name is Tieu Minh Phat.

[In] 1978, China and Vietnam started to fight, and the Vietnamese government said that all Chinese people must leave Vietnam. They took away our jobs, our pay, our school, and we had to leave by a certain date. We took a chance at sea.

We followed the coast to Hong Kong, stopping occasionally for food or water, and the journey took one month. We took only the clothes that we were wearing. We had no extra money or gold. We never thought of the danger, we only looked forward to the future and the opportunity.

We arrived in Canada on January 14, 1980…

I was determined to improve my English and get a job as a mechanic.

[But] even with my new [motor mechanics] certificate, I didn’t have any Canadian experience so I still could not get a job.

Finally, in 1991, I joined Calgary City Transit as a Journeyman I – Heavy Duty Mechanic.

Through all the ups and downs, I have always worked for success for my family, and to reach my dream.

© 2006, Ming Siu/Glenbow Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Ming Siu’s Driver’s License from Vietnam, 1965

Ming Siu’s Driver’s License from Vietnam, 1965.

“This is the only thing I brought with me when we left Vietnam. We sold everything else to pay our boat fare.”

Government of Vietnam
Glenbow Museum, Ming Siu

Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
HONG KONG
CHINA
VIET NAM
© 2006, Ming Siu. All Rights Reserved.


Vietnamese Refugees on Government Dock, Photograph by Kiu Chan, July 1979, UBC Asian Library V-19

Vietnamese Refugees on Government Dock, Photograph by Kiu Chan, July 1979, Asian Library, University of British Columbia, V-19.

“When we first arrived, we had to stay in temporary accommodation. It was so crowded you could barely lie down. We stayed there for one month.”

Kiu Chan
Kiu Chan, UBC Asian Library, Ming Siu, Glenbow Museum
1979
HONG KONG
CHINA
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
VIET NAM
© 1979, UBC Asian Library. All Rights Reserved.


Chinese Immigrants from Vietnam to Hong Kong, Photograph by Kiu Chan, 1979, Asian Library, UBC, V-09

Chinese Immigrants from Vietnam to Hong Kong, Photograph by Kiu Chan, 1979, Asian Library, University of British Columbia, V-09.

“Our boat had about 45 people on board and only a sail, no motor. It took one month to sail to Hong Kong.”

Kiu Chan
Kiu Chan, Asian Library, University of British Columbia, Ming Siu, Glenbow Museum
1979
CHINA
HONG KONG
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
VIET NAM
© 1979, Asian Library, University of British Columbia. All Rights Reserved.


The provision of human rights is integral to quality of life. Ming Siu was persecuted in Vietnam because of his Chinese ethnicity.

Ming Siu's Story:

My Vietnamese name is Tieu Minh Phat.

[In] 1978, China and Vietnam started to fight, and the Vietnamese government said that all Chinese people must leave Vietnam. They took away our jobs, our pay, our school, and we had to leave by a certain date. We took a chance at sea.

We followed the coast to Hong Kong, stopping occasionally for food or water, and the journey took one month. We took only the clothes that we were wearing. We had no extra money or gold. We never thought of the danger, we only looked forward to the future and the opportunity.

We arrived in Canada on January 14, 1980…

I was determined to improve my English and get a job as a mechanic.

[But] even with my new [motor mechanics] certificate, I didn’t have any Canadian experience so I still could not get a job.

Finally, in 1991, I joined Calgary City Transit as a Journeyman I – Heavy Duty Mechanic.

Through all the ups and downs, I have always worked for success for my family, and to reach my dream.

Taking Action:

What are human rights? Review and discuss the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consider Ming Siu’s story and how government persecution impacted his quality of life.

Become familiar with local organizations that work with refugees. Interview staff that work at these organizations. What services do they provide? How do they suggest you and your class get involved locally? Is there a role for youth volunteers in their organizations?


Resources for Further Study:

Refugees
CBC site with clips about the Boat People.
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-524/life_society/boat_people/

Teachers Resource Package about Refugees
http://www.unac.org/learn/wrld/Refugees/FINAL%20ENGLISH%20GUIDE.pdf

Human Rights
International Declaration of Human Rights.
http://www.un.org/rights/

Teacher and student friendly version of the International Declaration of Human Rights.
http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/humanrights/index.asp

Charter of Rights and Freedoms
http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pdp-hrp/canada/guide/index_e.cfm

Vietnam War
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/vietnam/vietnam_teacher.cfm

Cambodia
A PBS site that provides links and resources about the Khmer Rouge and contemporary life in Cambodia.
http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/links.html

Thailand
An overview of Thailand on Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand

Laos
An overview of Laos on Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laos

Extended biographical information about Thép.
http://www.junerain.com/en/about.php

China
CBC site with clips about Chinese immigration to Canada.
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-1433/life_society/chinese_immigration/


Glenbow Museum
Glenbow Museum, Ming Siu, Rare Method
2006
Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
CHINA
HONG KONG
VIET NAM
© 2006, Glenbow Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Students will recognize and appreciate the importance of human rights in determining quality of life. They will explore various understandings of quality of life.

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