The Calgary Vietnamese Youth Association
The Calgary Vietnamese Youth Association (CVYA) was established in 2002 by Duyen Nguyen, Anne-Marie Pham, and Antoine Nguyen, three young first-generation Canadians whose vision was to provide opportunities for youth to be their best in their personal, professional and community lives.
Today, the new leaders of CVYA carry on this vision, and are made up of individuals who are second generation Canadians, international students, and permanent residents, from diverse fields such as science, education, business, and IT.
Reflecting on the group’s 15th anniversary, the association has done tremendous work to connect and build the community both within and outside the Vietnamese circle. CVYA has funded over 100 young leaders and given them access to leadership programs across North America. CVYA hosted regional and national conferences, inspiring youth, providing them with skills, and matching youth to mentors in many fields. They act as an inter-generational link between community elders and student groups, keeping the history and stories of first-generation Vietnamese Canadians alive, while educating youth about their culture and where their ancestors came from.
CVYA’s commitment to advocacy does not stop within the Vietnamese community. Last year, at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, youth witnessed a story eerily similar to what many of their parents and elders went through following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. CVYA stepped up to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. With the help of the Calgary Vietnamese Canadian Association and the community, CVYA raised $17,000 to provide support for a family of three for six months. The money covered accommodation, initial costs, and allowances for the family. CVYA was also there to provide social and emotional support in the form of job hunting, connecting the family with refugee support programs, setting up bank accounts, teaching the family how to use public transportation, filing government paperwork, and most importantly, acting as their surrogate family in Canada. Because of this support, the family is now thriving in Canada and just welcomed their second baby boy, Michael.
Other causes CVYA has been a part of include collaborating with various Vietnamese organizations to host a show which raised over $30,000 for Fort McMurray residents affected by the May 2016 wildfires, as well as co-hosting a fundraiser with SENHOA to raise $32,000 to fight human trafficking in Asia.
Over the past decade, CVYA has also been an active volunteer body for various organizations across Calgary who need a helping hand. Many youth have become successful professionals and most continue to be leaders, sitting on boards and committees, presenting at events to share their experiences, and encouraging philanthropy and community building.