President Novák nears end of Canadian tour

The president thanked the government and parliament of Ontario for recent legislation under which October was declared Hungarian Heritage Month.

On the fourth day of her Canadian tour, President Katalin Novák met Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario.

During the talks, focusing on ethnic minorities, the president shared her recent experience in the Hungarian communities of Toronto, and the difficult situation of Transcarpathian Hungarians, further aggravated by the Ukraine war. President Novák thanked the government and parliament of Ontario for recent legislation under which October was declared Hungarian Heritage Month to be observed each year. Hungarian Heritage Month programmes included cultural, business and scientific events in Ontario, concluded with a gala evening addressed by Novák. The talks in the Ontario Legislative Building were attended by Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s minister for mental health, Peter Bethlenfalvy, the province’s finance minister of Hungarian origin, Kinga Surma, the infrastructure minister, and Rudy Cuzzetto, the lawmaker who submitted the proposal for Hungarian Heritage Month. President Novák also had talks with Victor Fedeli, the minister of economic development, and paid tribute to Hungary’s anti-Soviet revolt of 1956, at a plaque in the legislative building.

Later, at the inauguration of a new church and community centre to the First Hungarian Reformed Church, the president said Hungary and the Hungarian diaspora have a mutual responsibility. Ties between the mother country and the diaspora form an “umbilical cord” which ensures “spiritual, intellectual, and cultural connection” even through long distances. It “nurtures and connects us for good, in an inseparable way”, the president said. Hungary has an obligation to “listen to and take responsibility for” diaspora communities, while Hungarian communities have the obligation to retain their Hungarian identity and their language, she said. Hungarians in other parts of the world should also take responsibility for Hungarian communities in the Carpathian Basin, the president said. “Those in need, whether in Hungary or in former parts of Hungary, are looking for help,” she said, noting Canadian Hungarians’ aid to Transcarpathia Hungarians after the Ukraine war had broken out. The new church was inaugurated by Bishop Zoltán Balog, head of the Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church. The First Hungarian Reformed Church of Toronto left its previous church in January 2019. The new church is part of a complex including the Hungarian Diaspora Mission Centre complete with halls and other facilities to serve Hungarians in Canada. The complex was built with a contribution from the Hungarian state.