Running on Empty – Book Publication

The Society proudly announces the publication of its book, ‘Running on Empty’, on the Indochinese ‘boat people’ movement under the banner of McGill Queen’s University Press.The book focuses on the work of Canadian public servants in Southeast Asia and Canada to meet an unprecedented commitment to resettle 70,000 of the refugees before the end of 1980.

The book can be ordered through the publisher
It can also be ordered from Indigo  or 

McGill brochure and order form can be downloaded here

The CIHS summary of the book can be seen below.

Download (Marketing-flyer-MQUP-Molloy-et-al-Apr17.pdf, Unknown)

Marketing ‘Running on Empty’

At the 2017 AGM, Mike Molloy provided an overview of the effort and resources that the Society put into producing and marketing ‘Running on Empty: Canada and the Indochinese Refugees, 1975-1980’ with McGill-Queen’s University Press.

There was a highly successful initial launch in May in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada with the Right Honourable Joe Clark as speaker and substantial support from the Vietnamese and Cambodian communities and Perfect Books. Subsequent launch events took place at the Longue Pointe Canadian Forces Base in Montreal, which was a reception centre at the height of the Indochinese refugee movement; at the Canadian Museum of Immigration History at Pier 21 in Halifax; at the national headquarters of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada during Public Service Week; and at the Senate of Canada through the efforts of Government Representative in the Senate, the Honourable Senator V. Peter Harder – the latter two with Octopus Books. And in November, Molloy participated in a trans-Canada armchair discussion through the Canada School of Public Service.

Events in Toronto (Ben McNally Books). Orillia (Manticore Books) and Winnipeg (McNally-Robinson Booksellers) will take place in February, 2018 in collaboration with Indochinese-Canadian community representatives. Opportunities further west will be pursued.

A first printing of 600 copies sold out, and McGill-Queen’s did a second printing. Selling only 400 more copies would make ‘Running on Empty’ a best seller for an academic book!



CIHS website Redesign

The CIHS website has been redesigned so that it is accessible to a wider range of hardware. Try it out on your smart phone or tablet; we think you’ll like this new design presenting high quality content.

The Indochinese ‘Notification of Arrival Telex’ and ‘Destination Matching Request’

‘Going under’ – that was what the Indo China refugee task group found
themselves facing in Ottawa. There was a ‘collision’ between the resource demands of overseas processing and maintaining the air bridge to Canada and the operational needs of
matching private settlement offers in Canada. Canadian private settlement organizations were vocal about the disconnect between their offers to settle and support the refugees, followed by a long silence from immigration authorities, culminating with a phone call essentially saying ‘your refugees will be at your door tomorrow’. Overseas operations were equally vocal about the impossibility of both processing the refugees and timely feeding of the reporting/matching system.  

The answer to the question ‘do we move paper or refugees’ was a no-brainer.
Part of the solution came from an historical precedent – The Berlin Airlift.
Then, the West faced the problem of trying to get an unending stream of
supply flights into Berlin airports in face of the blockade and some of the worst weather in
Europe. If a plane couldn’t land it would be ‘stacked’ in the air over Berlin in the same way that unmatched refugees would be ‘stacked’ at the refugee reception centers in Canada – with the same results. Very quickly the Berlin stack consumed so many resources and grew so unmanageable as to prevent any planes from landing. The solution – deceptively simple – you
either landed on your first pass or you turned around and flew back to West Germany.

The Indochina refugee variant was that the refugee was either matched with the
private sponsor by the time of departure from South East Asia or entered Canada as a ‘government sponsored refugee’. Another part of the solution was the ‘miraculous/fell off the back of a truck’ acquisition of computer facilities apparently without due regard to procurement rules and priorities.  The technology made it that much more efficient to match sponsors and refugees.

Ian Thompson