Public Art: Refugee Mother and Child Monument
Sculptor: © Pham The Trung
Date Unveiled: The Refugee Mother and Child monument was erected on the 30th April 1995.
Description: Bronze statue of a barefoot mother fleeing with a child in her arms.
Location: The monument is located in the park at the corner of Preston St. and Somerset St. West, Ottawa, Canada
Commissioned By: City of Ottawa and the Vietnamese Federation of Canada.
History of Refugee Mother And Child Monument: Between 1975 and 1990, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees left their country to escape the communist government of Vietnam. Canada, a member of the United Nations, allowed Vietnamese refugees refuge and citizenship in the country. The City of Ottawa and the Vietnamese Federation of Ottawa sponsored the creation of the sculpture “Refugee Mother and Child” to commemorate Vietnamese refugees, and other refugees across the world, who have lost their lives in search of freedom. Also commemorating the 2o year anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the City and Ottawa Mayor Jackie Holzman unveiled the statue on April 30th, 1975.
Acknowlegements: Thank you to Khai Thu Nguyen for supplying photographs and information for this page.
Trivia: The Refugee Mother and Child is the first monument in the world dedicated to the Vietnamese Boat People.
Controversy : When the Vietnamese Embassy heard about the statue being erected, in part by the Vietnamese community and the City of Ottawa, they were less than impressed. In fact, the Vietnamese diplomats tried to halt the unveiling. Evidently, the Hanoi regime took great offence at the suggestion that refugees would want to flee Vietnam for Canada, or any other country for that matter, when the Communist rulers captured the South. Despite great pressure placed on government officials, the Embassy was told that in Canada, citizens had a right to pay for and erect statues if they so choosed. The fallout from the incident resulted in Secretary of State for Asian Affairs postponing a scheduled trip to Vietnam.