Some 25,000 Laotians and members of minority groups from Laos have resettled in Canada since 1975.
Dr. Khamlay Mounivong, president of the Federation of Lao Associations in Canada said he was among the first group of Laotians who resettled in Canada, adding that he decided to remain after receiving his PhD degree.
According to the Canadian Employment and Immigration statistics, there were only 11 Laotian refugees in Canada in 1975. Dr. Khamlay said the Canadian government began to accept refugees from Laos in 1980. Before that it was very difficult to apply for refugees status there.
According to the Multicultural Canada Website, more than 100,000 Indochinese refugees have resettled in Canada, and around 15,000 are lowland Laotians. However, Dr. Khamlay said the total number of refugees from Laos stands around 25,000, counting members of all minority groups. Nearly 75% of them live in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.
The Canadian Website says there are 6,185 Laotians in Ontario province, while 4,715 live in Quebec, 1,065 in British Columbia, 1,195 in Manitoba, 1,015 in Alberta, and 615 in Sasketchwan.
The city where Laotians are most concentrated in - more then 3500 – is Montreal, followed by Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
Dr. Khamlay said that after he decided to stay in Canada, he went to work for Chicoutimi University as a director for research and education improvement for 26 years, and later worked 4 years at the University of Montreal.
Dr. Khamlay said refugees from Laos faced many problems when they first arrived in Canada, but now they have adapted well to their new country. Some have become doctors, professors, police, soldiers and engineers, and members of the newer generation are getting even better and better.
Laotians in Canada have established many organizations such as the Lao Women Association and Lao-Canadian Association in most of the cities where they live. They also set up temples in Montreal, Toronto and Manitoba to continue their Buddhist faith and practices.
Listen to our report for more details.