Oct. 23-29, 2016, is Hungarian Cultural Week in British Columbia, acknowledging the role and contributions Hungarian refugees have made economically, socially and culturally to the province.
This year marks the 60th anniversary since the start of the Hungarian Revolution, which resulted in more than 200,000 refugees fleeing their country. More than 37,000 emigrated to Canada.
More than 200 faculty and students from Hungary’s 200-year-old school of forestry based in Sopron were among those who arrived in Canada and established the Sopron division of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia. A total of 141 Sopron students graduated from the forestry program. One-third of these graduates obtained further credentials, including 20 doctorates.
Over 80% of the graduates remained in Canada, raising families, celebrating their culture and working in forest-based careers. Many of their children continue in the tradition of involvement in the forest sector, with some at the highest echelons of education and industry. Their influence extends into B.C.’s forest practices and policies today, including pulp and paper, wood processing, silviculture, forest health and fire protection, and park and wildlife management.
In 2007, 70 Sopron alumni dedicated a post carved from an 800-year-old western redcedar that fell during the 2006 Stanley Park windstorms and erected it outside of the UBC Forest Sciences Centre. The intricate carving was done in Transylvanian traditional style by recently passed Les Józsa and welcomes students and visitors to the faculty of forestry at UBC.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“British Columbia’s willingness to help and protect Sopron faculty and students has resulted in enhanced forest policy and knowledge in areas such as sustainable yield, tree growth, forest health, silviculture, and park and wildlife management. Please join me during Hungarian Cultural Week in B.C. to celebrate how Hungarians displaced from their homeland and Hungarian Canadians have contributed to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the province.”
Robert Kozak, associate dean, academic, UBC faculty of forestry and son of Sopron forestry student Dr. Antal (Tony) Kozak –
“Canada, B.C. and UBC opened their arms in welcome, offering freedom and a future when my father and his colleagues were in great need. In return, those from the Sopron forestry school brought knowledge and imprinted a legacy that has influenced forest practices in B.C. and helped position B.C. as a world leader in sustainable forestry and forest products.”
See the Hungarian Cultural Week proclamation:
Read the Sopron Story on the University of British Columbia’s website:
Letters from Hungarian faculty and students that were affected:
A photo of the Hungarian gate that stands outside of UBC’s Forest Sciences Centre can be viewed at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yahtsek/92910278 and UBC’s news release on its dedication is located at: http://news.ubc.ca/2007/06/14/archive-media-releases-2007-mr-07-060