'Boat people' featured in latest Heritage Minute

The latest Heritage Minute features Canada's acceptance of Vietnamese ``boat people'' and shines a light on the admission of more than 100-thousand refugees fleeing war in Vietnam in the 1970s.   

Cast with refugees or their descendants, the video tells the story of a family jumping off a sinking vessel and being warmly welcomed as they begin a new life in Montreal.  

Historica Canada President Anthony Wilson-Smith says Canada is a more diverse place than it was in 1967, adding the Heritage Minute acknowledges that increased diversity in the lead-up to celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday.   

Wilson-Smith says the arrival of the Vietnamese ``boat people'' took place against a different cultural backdrop and exemplified Canada's approach to welcoming newcomers.   

Ottawa tabled a new Immigration Act in 1976 which, for the first time, recognized refugees as a special class of immigrants, provided for admission on humanitarian grounds of designated classes of people and enabled the private sponsorship of refugees.   

In June of 1979, the Canadian government announced it would resettle 50-thousand Vietnamese refugees by the end of 1980. 

Historica says thousands more made it to Canada safely as a result of a successful private sponsorship effort dubbed Project Lifeline.

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