Dr. Soma Ganesan sees a lot of similarities between the Syrian refugees now landing in Canada and the tens of thousands of boat people who fled Vietnam to come here several decades ago.
Both groups are from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Both escaped a civil war with almost nothing. And both often spent long months in refugee camps before settling in North America. Dr. Ganesan may feel this connection more acutely than others. He came to Canada as a Vietnamese refugee in 1981 and now runs Vancouver General Hospital’s psychiatry department and the Bridge Clinic for refugee health. Since opening two decades ago, his clinic has treated hundreds of vulnerable new Canadians for trauma-related illnesses. This year, the facility has seen an uptick in Syrian refugees. The United Nations has found almost half of this group has survived violence or torture.