University of Alberta returns endowment honouring Ukrainian who fought with Nazis

EDMONTON — The University of Alberta is returning endowment funds from the family of a Ukrainian man whose military service was linked to the Nazis.

Since 2019, the university's Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies has had a $30,000 endowment carrying the name Yaroslav Hunka.

Hunka was introduced in the House of Commons last week during a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It was later revealed that Hunka had fought in a Ukrainian unit set up by Nazi Germany to fight the Soviet Union.

The revelation forced the resignation of Anthony Rota as House Speaker and an apology on behalf of Parliament by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The university has now closed the endowment and returned the money to the family.

"The university recognizes and regrets the unintended harm caused," said a statement from Verna Yiu, vice-president academic.

"I want to express our commitment to address antisemitism in any of its manifestations, including the ways in which the Holocaust continues to resonate in the present."

She said the university is re-examining its naming policies for endowment funds.

In Ottawa, an interim speaker will preside as the House of Commons resumes sitting for the first time since Rota's resignation.

The fallout continues, with MPs expected to call for various House committees to investigate how it could have happened.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather says Parliament needs to fix the procedures so something like this never happens again.

"It's totally unacceptable that someone with that kind of past was recognized in the chamber," Housefather said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.

The Canadian Press