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.