“Little Saigon” is right name for area of Vancouver, Vietnamese Canadian resident says

This morning (September 16), the Straight called the Ottawa-based embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

We wanted to know how Hanoi feels about a move to name a section of Vancouver’s Kingsway area as Little Saigon.

Saigon was the former capital of South Vietnam. It was renamed Ho Chi Minh City following the surrender of South Vietnam to the communist North Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

The Straight had yet to hear from the Vietnamese embassy as of noon today but in the meantime, we were able to talk to one member of the Vietnamese Canadian community in Vancouver.

Lam Dang arrived in Canada as a 19-year-old refugee in 1980, and he explained why Saigon was the name chosen by his community.

“The notion, the concept of Saigon is more preferred because most of the people who have come here are from the south [South Vietnam], and they have nostalgia...about the old country,” Dang said in a phone interview.

Dang said that Saigon is “popular” not only among local Vietnamese Canadians.

“Ho Chi Minh is the official name only,” Dang said. “But when you are in Saigon right now, people just use Saigon only anyway. It’s still Saigon but the official name on documents is Ho Chi Minh.”

Dang, who works as a settlement adviser helping new immigrants to Canada, said the proposed naming of the section of Kingsway between Fraser and Nanaimo streets is meant to make local Vietnamese Canadians feel proud of their contributions to their adopted country.



Save Vancouver

Sep 16, 2011 at 2:41pm

Its election season and I see Vision Vancouver is in full pandering mode.


Sep 17, 2011 at 1:31pm

I see we have a two-pronged campaign here to have this area officially designated as a South Vietnamese neighbourhood - the other prong being Councillor Kerry Jang's recent musings to accomplish the same. Why don't we just start dividing up Vancouver into appropriately named ethnic enclaves? This is, without doubt, the most backward-thinking and brainless idea that's come out of City Hall lately, which is saying a lot. What some immigrants don't seem to understand is that old names such as Chinatown or Little Italy in many Canadian cities were actually derogative. Chinatown was synonymous with prostitution, cheap food, easy booze, crime and drugs - but not somewhere you'd want to live. Little Italy wasn't usually far behind in some of those categories. Why a Canadian who's been here for thirty years would want to label his neighbourhood as Little Saigon baffles me. For decades during the Vietnamese War, Saigon was synonymous with every kind of vice imaginable - and ultimately a big loser in a pointless war. Possibly some immigrants remember it when it was the 'Paris of the East', but I can guarantee that the name "Little Saigon" will not conjure up images of The City of Light for most Canadians - exactly the opposite is more likely. Nor does that particular stretch of Kingsway in any way resemble anything other than an urban mess, if you want to know the painful truth.

East Van

Sep 18, 2011 at 9:59pm

Kingsway from Fraser all the way east to Nanaimo???? That's ridiculously far. How about just the cluster around Kingsway and Knight? The businesses and residents elsewhere along Kingsway aren't predominantly Vietnamese.
Even Little India only extends a few blocks along Main St and E. 49th and there's a larger Indo-Cdn population in the city.

Conserve Vancouver

Sep 21, 2011 at 9:19am

This is absolutely ridiculous. Regardless of its current population people should respect Canadas heritage. Naming locations based on ethnicity will only serve to further divide this city.


Oct 13, 2011 at 1:25pm

This will be Vancouver’s own Yasukuni!


Oct 14, 2011 at 1:40pm

Let's put a "Little Taipei" in the middle of Chinatown and put up KMT flags all over Chinatown to mark it out. Taipei is, after all, the capital of the Republic of China. Wouldn't the Chinese love to have their capital city commemorated in Vancouver?


Nov 2, 2012 at 5:12pm

i fully support calling the area Little Saigon. for heaven's sake people, it's just a small stretch of kingsway that you never go to anyway! also, may i remind you that KENSINGTON is a place in England - we're not all from there either!