A Winnipeg tailor is celebrating over 40 years of freedom and showed his gratitude by giving away 100 Vietnamese subs to people downtown. 

Tam Nguyen has been in Winnipeg, working as a tailor for 35 years. Before that, he was fleeing Vietnam, unsure if he would make it out alive. 

"I left during the war and I ran from everything. I saw people die, but luckily my family was all okay," says Nguyen.

The country wanted to force Nguyen to fight in the army, and when he refused, they put his parents in jail for a week. 

"I gave up and said I would go to the army. I was in there for two weeks when I escaped from them and went to Saigon."

This was early in 1980. Nguyen found someone who bought a boat to try and run away. While he had no money, he was told to simply owe his friend. 

"April 30, we got in a boat to escape into the ocean. There were 17 people in a boat the size of 2 m by 10 m."

The group of people were hoping to make it into international water. 

"We had five days on the ocean with two days of food and water. After that we had one container of water, so for 17 people, we could have one cup a day. We caught and ate raw fish."

During those three days, Nguyen wasn't sure he would survive.

"I was sitting there scared, thinking any second we could die, or the boat could sink. So I prayed for everybody, to God to help me out. I told him if I would survive I would help these people."

The group made it to Malaysia in a refugee camp and Nguyen stayed there for 6 months. Out of the options he was given, he chose to move to Canada and landed in October of 1980. 

Since then Nguyen got married and had a family. He's been a tailor downtown in Winnipeg since 1985. Each year he has been in Canada, a country that has kept him safe, he has celebrated by giving back. 

Tam Nguyen getting the subs ready.Tam Nguyen getting the subs ready. (Supplied)

"Every year I do something. This year we made 100 Vietnamese subs to bring down to Main St. and Henry, joining with the 204 Community."

Nguyen and his family gave people the sandwiches on May 2. Coming from nothing, he and his family now give back when they can.

"I can help my hometown, Winnipeg. I've done fundraising, give food out to people who need it. Big or small I help out."

People received the sandwiches with gratitude as Nguyen says, "They were really happy we helped them out."