“My parents — George and Trude — fled Hungary as refugees at the end of the Second World War. They brought my brother, George Jr., and me to Montreal. We left our belongings in a Russian-occupied territory. During that tumultuous period, 600,000 Hungarian civilians were killed.
When we arrived in 1951, we had nothing. My father sold vacuum cleaners despite having a PhD in economics and having worked as vice-president of a bank in Budapest. Through hard work, he established a business selling life insurance. He became one of the most successful agents in Canada. Today, I lead the family business.
I’m proud of what we’ve brought to our adoptive country. Our business, Lengvari Financial Inc., employs Canadians and offers a valuable service. Career success has enabled me to give back. I recently donated $1 million to Concordia, my alma mater. I’m supporting women in business — an important cause to me — and preventive healthcare at the university’s PERFORM Centre.
My alma mater alone has received a number of major gifts from immigrants in the past few years. Donors originate from countries that include India, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, ‘Diversity is our strength’ and that for ‘those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you.’
My family falls into that category of those fleeing from war. We’ve always been grateful. Stories of immigrants-turned-philanthropists are a testament of what starting anew means for us. It is one way of paying homage to an attitude that accepts the tired and poor.
My gift to Concordia is my way of saying thanks to all Canadians.”