‘Success’ Stories, Government Public Relations, and the Resettlement of South East Asian Refugees in Canada 1979-1980
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Between July 1979 and May 1980, the Canadian Employment and Immigration Commission undertook an extensive public relations campaign related to the resettlement of South East Asian refugees in Canada. This thesis sheds light on the origins and functions of this campaign, and examines how it emerged as a response to high levels of anti-refugee and anti-Asian racism within Canada. Through a critical reading of the most significant component of the strategy, the Indochinese Refugee Newsletter, this thesis reveals how the campaign repeatedly framed Canadians as naturally and wholeheartedly supportive of the refugee program, and South East Asian refugees as grateful beneficiaries of this generosity and inclusion. It argues that this essentializing narrative obscures the country’s divided response to the South East Asian resettlement program, the complexities of resettlement, and the many occasions when Canada did not respond to the arrival of migrants with open arms.