Two years ago, we met our dear friend Quesney who was still in Bangkok with his children after five years in limbo trying to be recognized as refugees. We had a meal together and reminisced about our time together in Thailand, the years we kept in touch since we left the country, and what they thought about becoming Canadian citizens.
His journey and story is a complicated yet inspiring one that started long before 2008 when I first met him. In early 2008, after being introduced to my wife, who welcomed him as a fellow French speaker and gave him a purpose while she managed the education department at the Bangkok Refugee Centre, Quesney fought to get him and his children recognized as refugees – people are considered “asylum seekers” before they are officially recognized as a refugee by the United Nations – fending for themselves and trying to live a ‘normal’ life while keeping a low profile.
Rejected by the UN to be recognized as refugees in their first few years in Bangkok, Quesney and his children sought help and support outside of the typical channels. While we had left Thailand in 2008, we continued to support Quesney by helping him find a safe place to live, helping his children to go to school, connecting him with friends who were in Bangkok, and finally finding a way to get him resettled in another country as a refugee. Ironically, this help came from Canada.
In 2014, seven years after Muriel took Quesney in, Quesney and his two children landed in Winnipeg – their new home as new Canadians. We were so happy and proud of them. I continue to be amazed by their persistence and hope for a better life.
It’s been a busy August so far. First, there’s getting use to being married, then there’ the traveling, moving around, settling-in, and adjusting to a new culture/country. I’ve been exposed to an overflow of visions, perspectives, colours, cultures, people, and thoughts. One things is for sure, life is a surprise – when you think you know what you’re doing, life throws you a twist to keep you on your feet. There’s still one more week left in August, which should bring some more surprises. In the meantime, here are some “perspectives” from the first three weeks.
The younger generation of my family clan
Memorized by a Lego exhibition in Grand Indonesia Mall
Some people might want to call it a secret, but we wanted a low-key affair in Canada. Everyone (a party of 6) arrived at my brother’s house at around 6pm. After a nice dinner that included tasty sushi from Fuji Sushi, a couple bottles of rosé from the south of France, a 30-minute ceremony with the commissioner, a delicious mango cake, a bottle of champagne, and a dance, I fell asleep… married. The whole affair might have been last minute, but we were thinking about for a while and I was really glad that my immediate family were all in town and able to come. So now the celebration moves to France…
Everyone had digital cameras so we had lots of photographers for the day…. here is a link to excellent photos my brother took that captured the moments:
Today was the last official day of the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics (and the free stuff events around the city). Vancouver has graciously received visitors from all over the world and the city has a few new ‘green’ buildings, a important transportation line/link, and progressive ideas for the future. From the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Canada Line, to reviving downtown with pedestrian friendly boulevards and cityscapes and the innovative Olympic Village, hopefully the changes to the city from the Olympics has improved things in the city for visitors and locals alike.
But there are still short and long-term issues that Vancouver faces pre and post Olympics (i.e. Vancouver still has lots of issues re: social housing, poverty, and crime/drugs, as well as native/aboriginal rights). If you don’t believe me, you can find the “other side of to Olympic coin” by reading the news and reports on a number of website including “Resist 2010” and “2010 Vancouver Olympic Protest Reporting“.
Personally I had a great time and was glad to have made it back to Vancouver for a bit of Olympics… The city of Vancouver is a progressive place with lots of things happening in the mainstream and at the periphery. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the city is a dynamic place full of passion not only embracing and inviting visitors to come and enjoy Canada’s westcoast lifestyle, but also igniting and leading the way for social justice.
Some photos from today’s walk downtown to soak up the Olympic atmosphere before it all gets taken down…
A lot of new Canadian coins were introduced to commemorate the 2010 Olympics
The Olympic Line tram goes back to Belgium after the Olympics
Posters and banners promoting Canada are all over the city
Free events at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Pin trading was a important side event and relationship builder during the Olympics
One of the more popular venues to visit
Trading for new Olympic coins by the Royal Canadian Mint
People lining up to trade coins at the Vancouver Public Library
Just got back to Vancouver a couple of days ago and was able to catch a little Olympic fever. Yes, I’m a couple of weeks too late for the main event, but the Paralympic Games will be starting soon.Â I was in downtown Vancouver yesterday and even though weather wasn’t the greatest (i.e. rain, rain and more rain), the fever was building for the paralympics. After getting off the skytrain I was lucky enough to see the olympic torch pass by.Â Here are some photos while I tried to chase down the torch.
Canada comes out of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics with the most number of gold medals of any country! Even though I couldnâ€™t catch most of the games while I was in Bangkok, I was glad to catch the biggest gold medal won during these games â€“ Canadaâ€™s 3-2 overtime victory over the USA in menâ€™s hockey.
Just because Vancouver had the Olympic closing ceremony, thereâ€™s still more on the scheduleâ€¦ the Paralympics will also be in Vancouver from 12-21 March. You can keep track of it all hereâ€¦ Go Canada Go!