In Memory of Daria Mucak-Kowalsky

08 September 2020

On 28 August 2020, Daria Mucak-Kowalsky, a well-known and longtime benefactor of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and Ukrainian studies elsewhere, died in Toronto at the age of 103.

Mrs. Mucak-Kowalsky was born in the town of Burshtyn in Western Ukraine. She graduated from a private teachers’ college for women run by the Basilian Sisters in Stanyslaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) and taught at a primary school in Burshtyn, where she prepared students for Gymnasium exams, taught violin, and was actively involved in local Ukrainian cultural and community life. As a young woman, Daria Mucak married Andrii Cholii (1912–41), a graduate of Lviv University with a master’s degree in law (1935) and a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Mr. Cholii was arrested during the 1939–41 Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine and was murdered by the NKVD in a Stanyslaviv prison in June 1941. His tragic death had an immense impact on his wife and provided much of the inspiration for her future philanthropy and support of education.

As a postwar refugee, Daria Mucak immigrated to Canada in 1949. Thereafter she was actively involved in Ukrainian cultural and community life in Toronto and continued teaching violin. There she met her second husband, Michael Kowalsky. Mr. Kowalsky was born in 1908 in Uhornyky near Stanyslaviv, graduated from Lviv University with a master’s degree in law and political science, and worked as a regional manager of the Maslosoiuz Ukrainian dairy co-operative and a director of а branch of the Tsentrobank Ukrainіаn Credit Union. He was arrested several times by the Polish authorities for his activity in the Ukrainian nationalist movement and incarcerated for three years in Polish prisons before the Second World War. As a postwar refugee he also immigrated to Canada, settled in Toronto, and became a successful businessman there. He died on 24 May 2000.

For many years, Mrs. Mucak-Kowalsky and her late husband supported or helped to create important and visionary undertakings through exceptionally generous and well thought-out donations to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta. The largest of these projects is the Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky Program for the Study of Eastern Ukraine, created in 1987. This multifaceted program supports scholarly and cultural activity related to Left-Bank Ukraine, with special attention to projects related to Ukrainian identity. A substantial part of the program’s income has been disbursed to scholarly projects in Ukraine. The program’s endowment fund was further augmented by Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky during the years 1998–2000, and its value is now over two million dollars, including $200,000 in matching funds from the Province of Alberta.

Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky also generously supported the English-language edition of Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s monumental History of Ukraine-Rus' prepared by the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the CIUS and published by the CIUS Press. They sponsored the publication of two volumes of Hrushevsky’s History with generous donations of $100,000 for each volume.

In 2007 Mrs. Mucak-Kowalsky established the Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky Encyclopedia of Ukraine Endowment Fund at the CIUS with donations totalling $170,000. This permanent fund provides annual support for the research, writing, and editing of encyclopedia entries in the field of Ukrainian history for the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine project at the CIUS. The Kowalsky Encyclopedia of Ukraine Endowment Fund is dedicated to the memory of Daria’s first husband, Andrii Cholii. At the CIUS, Mrs. Mucak-Kowalsky also created the Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky Diaspora Studies Endowment Fund and the Michael Kowalsky and Daria Mucak-Kowalsky Graduate Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Together with her husband and alone, Mrs. Mucak-Kowalsky also generously supported other institutions and initiatives, including the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies, the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, and many other educational initiatives in Ukraine and North America.

Daria Mucak-Kowalsky’s kindness, dedication, and munificence will be forever remembered by everyone who knew her or benefitted from her philanthropy.

Вічна їй пам’ять! Memory Eternal!