Presentation: (1986) UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award to the people of Canada

The people of Canada are the unique recipients of an award for their work on behalf of refugees.

This video includes extracts from the 1986 presentation ceremony.

It was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, then Jean-Pierre Hocké, who, in 1986 presented the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award to “the people of Canada” through then Governor General Sauvé. The award recognizes the work of Canada in helping to alleviate the very difficult situations of refugees around the world. It was the first time the award was presented to an entire nation. In this extract from the award ceremony at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the High Commissioner and the Governor General speak and the award medal is presented. Also on the dais are the Honourable Flora MacDonald, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Gerry Weiner, then Minister of State (Immigration) and Michael Schelew, then President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. The web publishing of this video from the 1986 Nansen Award ceremony is courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2014.

40th Anniversary Lecture: Ugandan Asian Refugee Movement 1972

Canadian Immigration Historical Society President Mike Molloy lectured on the 1972 Ugandan Asian refugee movement at Ontario universities in Ontario in October, 2012 (Ottawa, Carleton, Windsor, Western, Laurier, McMaster, York, Ryerson and Toronto).

The 1972 Uganda Asian Refugee movement was the first test of Canada’s “Universal” immigration policy as applied to refugees. The talk examined the reasons behind General Idi Amin’s decision to expel Uganda’s small but dynamic Asian community and the Trudeau government’s reaction to the expulsion within a new Immigration and refugee policy framework. It described how a small, hastily assembled team went to Kampala in September 1972 and moved over 6000 refugees to Canada by the 8 November deadline imposed by the Ugandan government. The talk also explored the impact of the Ugandan experience on the refugee resettlement provisions of the 1976 Immigration Act and on the subsequent Indochinese refugee program of 1979-80. One of the lectures can be viewed at

Uganda Refugee Movement 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago this August the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin announced the expulsion of most of Uganda’s Asian population. Canada responded by sending a team to Kampala under the leadership of Roger St. Vincent and setting up a special reception facility at Canadian Forces Longue Pointe. Between 6 September and 6 November 1972 the Kampala team selected and transported over 6000 people to Canada.

CIHS is working with Carleton University, Ottawa to preserve and make publicly available an important collection of historical materials on this refugee movement. Included in this collection will be Roger St. Vincent’s account of the Uganda Operation “Seven Crested Cranes”, a unique collection of Ugandan press clippings covering 1970-72, and a comprehensive collection Canadian, British and US press clippings covering the events in Uganda and their repercussions in Canada between August to December 1972. These will be supplemented by electronic collections of Canadian and UK official documents and media coverage collected by three University of Ottawa graduate students, including a compilation of coverage in the Quebec media. Patti Harper of Carleton University’s Archives and Research Collections will oversee the conservation of the original materials and the creation of an internet accessible electronic archive.

As well, CIHS reprinted a special 40th anniversary edition of Roger Saint Vincent’s “Seven Crested Cranes”, his day by day account of the Uganda operation in the fall of 1972. The anniversary edition includes a new introduction as well as a series of never before seen photographs of Ugandan refugees arriving in Canada at Canadian Forces Base Longue Pointe, Montreal. This is a unique historical document detailing the challenges and pressures that characterize the management of urgent resettlement operations. Copies are available for $25.00 (Canadian) from the Society.