April 30th was the inaugural Journey to Freedom Day.
The day commemorates the mass exodus of Vietnamese refugees after the end of a brutal war.
Saigon, the capital city of the then South Vietnamese government, fell to northern forces on April 30, 1975.
Commonly known as boat people, many of the refugees fled due to persecution under the communist government.
Kim Tran was one of those people.
He was formerly a fisherman, and served as soldier for the South Vietnamese government.
Tran built a boat in late-1978 and with 50 other people, fled Vietnam.
With him were his three children, two son and a daughter, with his youngest son only 16-months old at the time.
He had to leave his wife because she was due with their fourth child and couldn’t make the perilous journey.
Tran says they initially landed in Thailand but were forced to go back to sea, where they then landed in Malaysia, and once again turned away.
After enduring pirates, storms, and exploitation, they finally landed on an island in Indonesia, where eventually Canadian immigration officials granted him passage to Canada.
He still remembers that date, February 28, 1980 and says that was the day he was re-born.
Tran now owns three Sunshine Inns in the northwest, with locations in Smithers, Houston and Burns Lake.
He’s currently in Terrace supervising the construction of his fourth Sunshine Inn property.
His wife that he left behind in Vietnam, they reunited a year after he landed in Canada.
When asked why he risked so much to leave Vietnam, this is his response.