Safe Haven: The Refugee Experience of Five Families

Safe Haven: The Refugee Experience of Five Families was the inaugural MHSO exhibition in the Heritage Gallery of Canada’s Peoples. Using news footage and newspaper articles, oral history interviews, personal belongings, and photographs produced by Vincenzo Pietropaolo, it explored the refugee experiences of five families from Czechoslovakia, Chile, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Somalia – the troubles that drove them from their countries, the trauma of their journeys, and the challenges of resettlement. Safe Haven was on view in the gallery from November 1993 to August 1995. The opening coincided with the 25th anniversary of the ‘Prague Spring’ in Czechoslovakia, the 20th anniversary of the military coup in Chile that overthrew of the Allende government, and the 15th anniversary of the Hai Hong incident in which 2,500 Indochinese ‘boat people’ were stranded off Malaysia. All of these events resulted in significant waves of refugees entering Canada. Development of the exhibition was guided by community research associates and community advisors engaged by the MHSO, and cultural programs, planned and coordinated by community partners, were staged during the course of the showing. The oral history testimony that animated the exhibition is captured in a companion book, Safe Haven: The Refugee Experience of Five Families, published by the MHSO in 1995.

Curator: Dr. Elizabeth McLuhan

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Safe Haven