What a flag means
Open letter to Debra Jutra, president of the Whitehorse Heritage Festival Society:
On behalf of the Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of Ontario, I will explain the reasons why the Free Vietnamese Community in Whitehorse, Yukon, across Canada and throughout the world chooses the Yellow Flag.
The Yellow Flag with three red stripes represents our culture, heritage and identity, and not the Red Flag.
Our association consists of Vietnamese veterans, our friends and dear families. We are part of those refugees who left Vietnam in search for freedom after the Communist Party of Vietnam (whom the Red Flag represents) attacked and occupied South Vietnam on April 30, 1975.
Millions of people attempted to flee Vietnam and more than half died at sea or in the jungle. For those who successfully escaped, this Yellow Flag was one of the very few possessions that was left to us, a symbol for those Vietnamese who value freedom and democracy.
The Yellow Flag represents our culture, heritage and our identity.
The Yellow Flag with three red stripes is a legitimate symbol for Vietnamese-Canadians and should therefore be included in the upcoming Whitehorse Heritage Festival Society.
I would like to refer you to a speech by Jason Kenney, Secretary of State, Multiculturalism and Canadian of May 4th, 2008. It can be reached on the ‘net at:
This speech was made at the Journey for Freedom event organized in Toronto to mark the day we, the Vietnamese, lost our freedom and liberty. We were forced to flee and become refugees. The world knows of this struggle as “the plight of the Boat People.”
Over the past 30 years, we Vietnamese have been welcomed into Canada, been provided new opportunities and accepted into society. We are deeply grateful to the Canadian government and its people. However, we must stand up for the symbols that truly represent us, especially this Yellow Flag with three red stripes.
This flag is our symbol of our cherished ideals of freedom, liberty, and democracy. It is a clear symbol of the uniqueness of our heritage and culture and the desire to preserve it, which led us to Canada in the first place.
The vast majority of the Vietnamese displaced by the result of the war carried this flag as refugees with them to continue their traditions and customs that they have been persecuted for.
I sincerely ask for understanding in this matter.
For the entire Vietnamese community to be represented by a symbol that does not reflect us is unfair. The hypocrisy to be told by one of your committee members for us to not misrepresent ourselves as being representative of all local Vietnamese then turning around and choosing the red Communist flag to represent all of us is a complete farce.
Vietnam’s embassy represents the current state of Vietnam in Vietnam, but not all the Vietnamese in Canada and around the world.
It is not our wish to bar the Red Flag, especially in a free society such as Canada’s. However, I would like to make it clear that this red flag is not truly representative of the Vietnamese community.
For us to celebrate our heritage and culture, we must make it known what our ideals are and which symbols represent those ideals and those would be the Yellow Flag and the Canadian Maple Leaf.
Attached is a photo from a trial in Vietnam. If you would have us be represented by a flag that allows this sort of treatment of a defendant at a trial, then we must be louder and clearer in what our beliefs are. This photo was taken in Vietnam, March 10th, 2007.
While attempting to remain politically neutral can be admirable, it misrepresents the culture and heritage your festival attempts to celebrate.
This has nothing to do with the state of Vietnam, only the Vietnamese people in Canada. The only politics involved in this situation ought to only be the political beliefs we have in freedom and liberty, represented by our Yellow Flag.
Thank you for your understanding and consideration.
I wish for the success of the first Whitehorse Heritage Festival and hope that there will be many in the years to come.
Tan Van Nguyen, president of Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of Ontario
In pursuit of poultry
Whenever I remember, I try to buy some products at the local farmers’ market — to support the local economy to reduce the carbon footprint.
The other day I inquired about local chicken.
The farmer told me that they would be butchering on the weekend and there are only four or five chickens available — the rest had already been spoken for.
I said I would like to buy the chickens. I was told I could pick up the chickens at the farm on Saturday evening.
The farm is 40 kilometres outside Whitehorse.
I said thanks, but no thanks. There is no way that I am driving 80 kilometres for four or five chickens.
I don’t know how many birds are being butchered at any given time, but imagine if that particular farm butchers 40 chickens and everybody takes four or five, that would amount to 600 to 800 kilometres of driving!
I realize most farmers can’t make a full-time living with the products they’re selling, and I can see that they can’t make deliveries after a regular workday in the city.
One solution that comes to my mind is a refrigerator unit with lockable compartments that could be put in place, by the city, the agricultural branch, the farmers or all together.
This unit, transportable or not, would only have to be operated during harvest or butchering season.
This would allow vendors to bring the goods to town after the weekend, and a pick-up time could be arranged, or the merchandise could be sold at Thursday’s market.