Park and monument to honour Vietnamese community breaks ground in southeast Calgary

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The Journey to Freedom Park, which will be built at the gateway to International Avenue in southeast Calgary, will commemorate the Vietnamese people will lost their lives while fleeing Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the years following the Vietnam War in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Calgary Vietnamese Canadian Association - image credit)
The Journey to Freedom Park, which will be built at the gateway to International Avenue in southeast Calgary, will commemorate the Vietnamese people will lost their lives while fleeing Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the years following the Vietnam War in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Calgary Vietnamese Canadian Association - image credit)

Members of Calgary's Vietnamese community gathered to break ground on a new park in southeast Calgary on Friday, 46 years after thousands of Vietnamese refugees fled the country after the fall of Saigon.

The Journey to Freedom Park, which will be built at the gateway to International Avenue in southeast Calgary, is intended to honour the journey of those refugees.

"We want to make sure that this history is going to be passed down from generation to generation," said Dr. Do Truong, who moved to Calgary as a refugee in 1979.

"So this is going to be a place for education and to really foster mutual understanding between community members."

Truong said he remembers arriving in Calgary with nothing but garbage bags holding his possessions. Stories like Truong's are being recognized as part of the groundbreaking.

The Calgary Vietnamese Canadian Association said it wants the project to help bring communities together and educate people about the history of the city's Vietnamese community.

That's something Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said didn't exist when he was young.

"I learned later what they had been through to get here, to this little taste of freedom," Nenshi said. "I realized that it really exemplifies the Canadian story."

The group has raised around $400,000 of the $1.3 million cost necessary to fund the project.