VWAT Family Services

'Empowering our Community'



August 18, 2015
Mrs. Pauline Phoi Thi Ho
Interim Executive Director
Vietnamese Women’s Association of Toronto (VWAT)
1756 St. Clair Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M6N 1J3

Dear Mrs. Thi Ho:

I received a copy of your open letter to the Vietnamese-Canadian community stating that the Board of Directors of the Vietnamese Women’s Association of Toronto (VWAT) has decided to cancel their plans to fly the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag at this year’s Vietnamese Lantern Festival. I believe your organization was incorrectly advised during its self-assessment that its charitable status would be revoked if it continues to fly this flag, on the basis that it represents a “political activity” and violates the limits set out in the Income Tax Act.

Displaying the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag is obviously a lawful and legitimate right for any Canadian citizen that is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I wish to reassure the VWAT Board Directors, and all Vietnamese-Canadian associations and organizations from coast to coast, that flying or displaying the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag does not represent a political activity in any way. Absolutely no charitable organization runs the risk of losing its charitable status and funding for simply displaying the flag. In fact, the Government of Canada has recognized the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag as the flag of Canada’s Vietnamese community for many years now. In 2009, the Honourable Jason Kenney recognized the flag “as an important symbol of the Vietnamese-Canadian community’s independence, strength and belief in national unity,” noting that “attempts to disparage it are a troubling attack on the community and on the principles of multiculturalism.” I have attached the letter on this issue for your reference.

Canadians of Vietnamese origin first arrived to Canada’s shores as refugee “boat people” in search of freedom following the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. Our arrival and successful integration in Canada is worthy of recognition, along with the symbols that mark that period and our shared heritage in Canadian history. That is why I am disappointed to hear that the VWAT Board of Directors decided it will not honour the flag as a legitimate symbol for our
community during an important holiday tradition. Refusing to display the flag for such unfounded reasons is a regrettable decision and affects the cultural events that give the flag its meaning.

I hope that all Vietnamese-Canadian organizations will display the flag freely and without reservation at their upcoming the Lantern Festival and at all future cultural events.

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo

The Committee to Support Vietnam’s Human Rights and Democracy
The Elderly Vietnamese Association of Mississauga
The Former ThuDuc Reserves Officer Cadet Association, Ontario
The Phap Van Vietnamese Buddhist Cultural Center
The Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of Ontario
The Vietnamese Association of Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph-Cambridge
The Republic of Vietnam Veteran’s Association of Ontario
The Vietnamese Association of Kitchener
The Vietnamese Association of Toronto
Voice Canada
The Vietnamese Cultural Society
La communauté catholique vietnamienne de Montréal
La Communauté vietnamienne au Canada, région de Montréal
Association des Ancien combattants vietnamiens au Canada, région de Montréal
Médecins et Pharmaciens et Dentistes Vietnamiens au Canada
Contributions du Club de l’âge d’or
Le Centre vietnamien Hong Duc
L’Association des Femmes vietnamiennes de Montréal
Le comité Canadien des réfugiers de la mer
The Calgary Vietnamese Association
The Calgary Vietnamese Association for encouragement of Learning
The Edmonton Vietnamese Veterans Benevolent Association
The Edmonton Vietnamese Association
The Edmonton Buddhist Research Institute
The Vietnamese Canadian Community in Greater Vancouver Society
The Vietnamese Unified Buddhist Congregation of BC
The Vietnamese Association of Nova Scotia`
The Vietnamese Canadian Community of Ottawa
The Vietnamese Canadian Federation

Updated: October 27, 2015 — 2:58 pm
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