Memorable Manitobans: Wasyl “Basil” Kushnir (1893-1979)
Born in Vikno, West Ukraine on 17 September 1893, he completed his high school education in Tarnopil and Lviv. After the First World War he studied theology at the Theological Seminary in Lviv and at the Catholic University in Innsbruck, Austria from which he received a doctorate in divinity in 1929. From 1930 to 1934 he taught at the Theological Seminary at Stanislaviv, Ukraine. He came to Canada in May 1934 and became a Ukrainian Catholic priest at Winnipeg. From 1947 to 1951 the Cathedral of Saints Vladimir and Olga was built under his leadership. In 1951 he was elevated to the position of Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII. He became Archbishop Major of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1968.
An outspoken anti-communist, in 1945 he led a delegation to the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco, California to challenge the right of the Ukrainian Soviet to represent Ukrainians. He was one of the founders of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, serving as its president from 1940 to 1953 and 1957 to 1972. He was founder and president of the Pan-American Ukrainian Conference, and he initiated and chaired the first World Congress of Free Ukrainians, serving as the president of its Executive Board from 1968 to 1969 and from 1973 to 1978.
He received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953), Canadian Centennial Medal (1967), Order of Canada (1972), and Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977). In recognition of his service to the Ukrainian Canadian community, he was awarded the Taras Shevchenko medal in 1961.
He died at Winnipeg on 25 September 1979.
“Monsignor Kushnir dies at 86,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 September 1979, page 13.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 September 1979, page 72.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 September 2018
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