Cooperation to preserve the Hungarian heritage in Montreal

The research of the past of the Hungarian diaspora living in Montreal is also a part of the agreement which was signed by the General Consulate of Hungary in Montreal and Debrecen University’s Faculty of Humanities in December.

The agreement is coordinated by the Institute of English and American Studies (IEAS) of Debrecen University’s (DU) Faculty of Humanities (FH), and it is centred on researching the past and present of the Hungarian diaspora living in Montreal, in addition to the mapping, preservation and academic presentation of the community’s heritage.

Apart from the IEAS, DU’s Department of Sociology and the International Migration Centre also take part in the joint project. During the cooperation, which is expected to last for years, the participants would like to work with Canadian universities and Hungarian organisations in Montreal to achieve results worthy of academic and public interest as well.

Balázs Venkovits, Director of the IEAS, was invited to Montreal between 7-17 December by the General Consulate. He took part in discussions on the long-term potential of the cooperation, met several representatives of local Hungarian organisations, and made a presentation on the details of the joint project at an event organised by the Scientist Club.

According to the Canadian census about 27,000 people consider themselves to be entirely or partially Hungarian in or around Montreal. This substantial diaspora emigrated to French Canada in more waves, the most significant of which was the group arriving after 1956. Several civil society organisations have been working to preserve the linguistic and cultural heritage of the community. The new project introduces and studies the past and present of these organisations and their events, as well as the cultural life of the Hungarians living in Montreal.

In the 20th century, several community-building initiatives have developed into a tradition, such as St Stephen’s Ball, which was organised by Hungarian groups in Montreal from 1959 year by year for 50 years.

‘The ball used to be a social event for the elite of Canada and Québec with the aim of facilitating the social integration of the newly arriving Hungarians. There were balls, which were sponsored by major entrepreneurs, where more than 1000 people participated along with prime ministers (e.g. Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father), ministers, government members, politicians and public figures,’ said Helga Pritz, General Consul.

The General Consul emphasised, ‘Reports about the Hungarian ball were featured among prominent news items in the media, while Hungarian gastronomy and music became well known in Montreal, and all of these things opened previously closed doors for young and talented Hungarian workers.’

DU’s new project, which is supported by the General Consulate, aims to study such initiatives as the Hungarian Ball as well as other aspects of the Hungarian community’s heritage. Processing and archiving the written and visual material, recording the memoires and making them available and integrating them into education materials are also important goals of the project.

‘This work is significant for us and fits well into our research portfolio. It is also a pleasure that it will be an interdisciplinary project realized in the form of a cooperation like this, with the participation of several organisations. The researchers at DU can rely on the assistance, equipment and experience of Concordia University’s Oral History Centre, and we hope that the cooperation between the universities will expand in the future,’ said Balázs Venkovits.

The project continues with the digitalization of the data that has been collected so far and with the preparation for the research.

Press Centre – BZs.

Last update: 2023. 12. 21. 10:16