Refuge Canada - The Doll

by Dan Conlin, Curator

Time 0:01:52


This little 1970s doll here tells a story about two major groups of refugees who came to Canada.

This doll is on loan from Dr. Tran-Davies, a medical doctor in Alberta.

She came to Canada as a five-year-old girl in 1979 as part of the large group of South-East Asian refugees who fled South-East Asia after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Over 60 thousand Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese refugees were resettled in Canada.

This was a major commitment to Canada to resettle refugees and it was the first time that the private sponsorship model was tried in a large scale.

Private sponsors are Canadians who sponsor a family that they’ve never met but they commit to providing and covering costs and helping people with housing and education for a year.

When the young five-year-old Tran-Davies left SE Asia, and you can see this ID photo of her taken in the camp she was in, boat number 3012, when her family came to Canada and arrived at the Edmonton airport in 1979 they were met by the Canadians who were sponsoring them, and Tran-Davies was given this little 1970s doll as kind of a welcome to Canada gift.

Dr. Tran-Davies has since become a very successful medical doctor with a huge family practice in rural Alberta and she’s kept this doll all these years.

She recently became involved in private sponsorship herself.

In 2016 she helped sponsor a Syrian family coming to Canada and she met them at the airport and gave a little Syrian girl a little doll just like the gesture that she received all those years ago.

So this little doll speaks to us of the commitments to people to help to settle to sponsor refugees and the way one group can help build on the success for another group.

Return to our Refuge Canada video gallery. →