University Returns Donation From Family With Nazi Links

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The University of Alberta is returning a $30,000 donation it received from the family of Yaroslav Hunka, saying it regrets any harm it may have caused by accepting the endowment in his name.

“The university recognizes and regrets the unintended harm caused,” Verna Yiu, interim provost and vice-president of the university, said in a statement.

“On behalf of the university, I want to express our commitment to address anti-Semitism in any of its manifestations, including the ways in which the Holocaust continues to resonate in the present.”

Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian Canadian, was invited to Ottawa last week for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Parliament, where Hunka was given a standing ovation after being pointed out by Speaker Anthony Rota.

It later emerged that the man Zelenskyy and others were applauding served in the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was part of Adolf Hitler’s forces during the Second World War.

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After Hunka’s past came to light, the university said it began a review of the $30,000 endowment fund in Hunka’s name.

The university said Hunka’s family made the donation to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the university in 2019.

At the University of Alberta, people can make donations that are then invested on their own, or pooled with other endowments, to generate interest that can be used to fund bursaries and researchers.

Endowment fund review

The university said it is in the process of reviewing how it names endowments and other donations, and its policies and procedures for endowments, “to ensure alignment with our values.”

Over the last decade, ending in March of last year, the university’s endowment has earned an average annual return of 9.6 per cent.

The endowment is managed by the Board Investment Committee at the university. The board’s 2022 report says it has a total of $1.6 billion worth of endowment assets.

Over the last 10 years, the university’s endowment allowed it to fund $425 million in spending on scholarships and research, $57 million of which was dispersed in 2022, the report said.

Courtest CBC

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