Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Flight

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posted on 2021-05-22, 09:35 authored by Mikaela Colville

This MRP examines the Canadian operated flight that evacuated a group of Vietnamese children from Saigon during the final days of the Vietnam War (April, 1975) in what became known as “Operation Babylift”. These children were flown from Saigon to Hong Kong, and then eventually to Toronto, Canada. Adopted by local families many of these children came with no records. These children eventually reconnected and had a reunion 30 years later. Operation Babylift and the people who were affected are the main focus of my final Masters Research Project (MRP) which was formulated into a 20-minute documentary film. The focus for the film was to explore the lives of three of the orphans, shed some light on the significance of the flights, and also discus the lack of proper documentation practices at the time. Controversy surrounded Operation Babylift and its motivations and continues to this day. I first began to explore and study this subject in September of 2015 after meeting with one of the orphans who was flown to Canada as part of the Canadian efforts in the Operation Babylift project. Trent Kilner and his story fascinated me. The Vietnam war was never a topic of study in school nor was I aware how orphans were flown to Canada out of Vietnam in the last days of the war. It was Trent’s story that stimulated the concept to create a documentary to share and educate others on this subject. The exploration of how our society and culture address foreign refugees and the process of adopting refugee children is something that is still a topic of conversation and relevant today. During the time of Operation Babylift there was much controversy about how the Western world was handling these children. Some people saw Operation Babylift as child-napping, while others saw it as a rescue mission. The purpose of this research paper is to explore the historical, political, social and controversial events that surrounded the orphan flights, drawing on scholarly literature, newspaper/media articles, archival footage, as well as other documentary films. I will show how this research impacted the production of the documentary and offer an analysis of the final project situating it within the wider realm of contemporary documentary film.





  • Master of Fine Arts


  • Documentary Media

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP