Hungarian Heritage Month Act Receives Royal Assent

Published on April 11, 2022

Bill 50, a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, to proclaim the month of October as Hungarian Heritage Month, has received Royal Assent

MISSISSAUGA – A Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, passed its third reading in the Ontario Legislative Assembly on April 7, 2022, and received Royal Assent this afternoon.

Bill 50, the Hungarian Heritage Month Act, proclaims the month of October in each year as Hungarian Heritage Month in Ontario.

“Ontario will become the first province in Canada to proclaim Hungarian Heritage Month,” said Cuzzetto. “I was very proud to bring this bill forward on behalf of all Hungarian Canadian communities. This includes the First Hungarian Community Group of Mississauga, which meets every Friday at the Carmen Corbasson Community Centre in Mississauga–Lakeshore.”

Canada is home to over 350,000 people of Hungarian and Magyar descent, as well as Hungarian-speaking immigrants from other areas of Europe, including Transylvania. Nearly half live in Ontario, where they have made remarkable contributions to fields as diverse as accounting, cinematography, finance, government, music and statistical analysis.

“Ontario has benefitted immensely from people of Hungarian descent choosing to call our province home,” said the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “I am proud to be the son of Hungarian immigrants, and I believe it is time we officially recognized the many members of the Hungarian community who have contributed to the prosperity of this great province.”

“Across every sector, the Hungarian community in Ontario have played a vital role in strengthening our province’s economy and shaping our cultural heritage,” said the Hon. Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. “The designation of Hungarian Heritage Month in October is an opportunity for us all to learn more about their rich culture and traditions, and to celebrate the many contributions they made in building the strong and vibrant Ontario we know today.”

Cuzzetto highlighted the leadership of Frank Hasenfratz, a Hungarian refugee who founded Linamar, one of the largest auto parts manufacturers in the world, who passed away in January: “When Russian tanks rolled into Hungary in 1956, he helped lead the Hungarian resistance, and his unit destroyed two Russian tanks. 66 years later, as more Russian tanks roll into Ukraine, and for the same reason, I want to thank the Premier for doing everything he can to help over 40,000 Ukrainian refugees find new homes and new jobs here in Ontario, including some who were visiting family and friends in my riding of Mississauga–Lakeshore, and now they have no home in Ukraine to return to.”

“In 1956 there were only two countries in the world accepting Hungarian refugees without any quota: Venezuela and Canada,” said Cuzzetto. “And I hope the federal government will welcome as many Ukrainian refugees as possible now.”

The preamble of Bill 50, the Hungarian Heritage Month Act, highlights the local contributions of Hungarian Canadians in Mississauga, including Paul Szabo, honoured as the “Hardest Working” Member of Parliament, and award-winning Mississauga Canoe Club coach Tamás Buday, a retired Olympic sprint canoer.

“This proclamation will also recognize the importance of the acceptance of Hungarian refugees in 1956 as a turning point in the history of Canada, and Ontario,” said Cuzzetto, “which has helped to shape our open and welcoming views toward new immigrants and refugees, and our respect for diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism.”

“I look forward to celebrating Hungarian Heritage Month together,” said Cuzzetto.

At the office of the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, with the Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, for the Royal Assent ceremony for Bill 50.

 

Quotes

“Hungarians who came to this province throughout more than 100 years have enriched it with their tremendous hard work and skills as entrepreneurs, engineers, educators, scientists and agricultural producers. Hungarian Heritage Month will provide Ontarians of Hungarian origin with the opportunity to share their rich and redolent culture of music, the culinary arts and dance with their fellow citizens of this great province.”

Dr. Susan Papp-Aykler
President of the Rakoczi Foundation

“The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 made the first crack in the Iron Curtain, presaging the opening of Hungary’s border for East Germans, which led to the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1990. Hungarians have been active contributors to Ontario’s vibrant community for more than 100 years, and this tribute is a wonderful recognition.”

Prof. Levente Diósady, O.C.
Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto

“In the time of need, Hungarians were welcomed by Ontario. Through the kindness and inspiration of the people here, Hungarians have been able to prosper in their new home and contribute to progression of the province. The Hungarians’ hard work, unique language, culture and innovative thinking is a treasure that Ontario has embraced and prospered from.”

Mr. Valér Palkovits
Consul General of Hungary in Toronto

“I think these initiatives are very important. Canada was enriched in countless ways by the people from Hungary who came here in the wake of the 1956 Revolution. What the Hungarians showed all of us in October 1956 was that there were alternatives to authoritarianism and living with a lie. While 1956 did not succeed, the legacy made a series of events possible when we least expected them. We owe the Freedom Fighters of Hungary more than we imagine.”

Prof. Robert Austin
Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto

 

Quick Facts

  • Hungarian immigrants began to arrive in Ontario in the early 20th century to work in Ontario’s steel industry, and to help build the Welland Canal. The Hungarian Self Culture Society of Welland celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.
  • Other Hungarians escaped to Canada following the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1944, including businessman and philanthropist Peter Munk.
  • Canada welcomed over 37,000 Hungarians following the Hungarian Uprising on October 23, 1956. They escaped communist tyranny, found refuge in Canada, and made important contributions across Ontario.
  • Thirty-three years later, Hungarians celebrated the collapse of the oppressive communist regime, as Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic on October 23, 1989.

 

Additional Resources

 

Contact

Office of Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP
Mississauga-Lakeshore
(905) 274-8228