Nhu Nguyen does not want P.E.I. to simply be a pit stop for his fellow Vietnamese countrymen.
The president of the newly established Viet.PEI, which is short for Vietnamese Association on P.E.I., is hoping to help newcomers from Vietnam settle and stay in Prince Edward Island.
Nguyen estimates about 500 Vietnamese people live in P.E.I., with the majority in Charlottetown but several in Summerside and some others in Souris.
Roughly 200 Vietnamese people have come here over the past three years, the majority through the Provincial Nominee Program, which selects individuals for nomination based on their intention to live and work in P.E.I. and their economic ability to establish here.
Nguyen expects another 200 families to come to P.E.I. from Vietnam over the next three years with family size averaging four.
Viet.PEI plans to work to help connect all the Vietnamese people who live, work or study on the Island.
“We are stepping out from the phase of just choosing this place as a shelter to a phase of spending great efforts together towards a full integration into our new life here on this beautiful little Island – a destination full of greatness,’’ says Nguyen, who has been living on P.E.I. with his family for a year and a half.
Nguyen says Viet.PEI, which currently has nine board members, is holding a series of settlement workshops and is drafting a newcomers’ handbook.
The entrepreneurial spirit is evident with many of the Vietnamese people who have landed on P.E.I. as members of his group own and operate restaurants, cottages, residential buildings and B&Bs, among other business ventures.
Still, more effort is needed to make P.E.I. more appealing to Vietnamese doctors, bankers and other professionals from this southeast Asian country, he adds.
What is attractive about Prince Edward Island to Nguyen and other Vietnamese people, he says, is the peacefulness of the place, good schools and less-expensive living than big Canadian cities.
Nguyen says the Vietnamese Association of P.E.I. will ultimately prove to be a success if it helps many more Vietnamese live in the province and enjoy a good quality of life.