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University of Alberta returns endowment to veteran of Nazi unit recognized in House of Commons

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The University of Alberta will return an endowment to the family of Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian veteran who fought in a Nazi unit who was honoured in the Canadian House of Commons last week.

Verna Yui, interim provost and vice-president academic at the Edmonton university, said Hunka’s family donated a $30,000 endowment fund to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in his name.

After Parliament’s recognition on Sept. 22 of the man who fought for the Nazis — a move some have called the most embarrassing international debacle in Canadian history – the university began a review of the Yaroslav and Margaret Hunka Ukrainian Research Endowment Fund, Yiu said.

“After careful consideration of the complexities, experiences, and circumstances of those impacted by the situation, we have made the decision to close the endowment and return the funds to the donor,” Yiu said.

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“The university recognizes and regrets the unintended harm caused.”

Yiu said the university is committed to addressing antisemitism in every way, “including the ways in which the Holocaust continues to resonate in the present.”

“As part of this commitment, the university is in the process of reviewing its general naming policies and procedures, including those for endowments, to ensure alignment with our values,” she said.

The webpage describing the fund has since been taken down, but an archived version from earlier this year said the endowment was to “support research related to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, with preference given to investigations of the lives and work of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky and Metropolitan (Cardinal) Josyf Slipyj and the history of the underground church.”

— with files from Karen Bartko, Global News