Today I had the pleasure of listening to a speech by George Tihanyi. His story about growing up in Budapest during the Second World War and then later immigrating to Canada really touched me. Mr. Tihanyi who is about 80 years of age, was full of energy describing the prejudice he occurred in his life. Tihanyi grew up in an era where he was surrounded by war and killing. From World War II to the Hungarian Revolution. After seeing all of this, he fled Hungary for Austria and from there went to Canada. When asked of his childhood, Tihanyi replied “What childhood?”
What really touched me as a Canadian about his speech is how he spoke of Canada. As a refugee who arrived in Canada and spoke very little English, he experienced great segregation. Despite this he had nothing but praise for Canada. He mentioned how the Canadian government flew him to Canada and when he arrived in Moncton, they paid for his train ride to Vancouver. Mr. Tihanyi, a machine engineer by profession (he learned in Europe) could not get the job he desired because he did not have any experience in Canada. He described himself as not a pacifist, taking up any job that he could find. After spending some years in Vancouver, Tihanyi moved to Montreal where he got a job at (the now defunct) Nortel which required him to travel around the world and teach others about his work. Despite having such a hard time coming to Canada, whenever Tihanyi would return from work abroad, he would kiss the Canadian ground. His reason being that he was extremely fortunate to be let into Canada and having a great life here. Tihanyi said that we are all lucky to be living in a country like Canada. As a man who has been through so much, I respect his word.
I have nothing but respect for people like Tihanyi. They are immigrant success stories. Mr. Tihanyi now works for Historica Canada. Mr. George Tihanyi, I salute you!