Ivonka Survilla

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Ivonka Survilla
Voa russiantv ivonka survilla 150.jpg
President of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in exile
Assumed office
Preceded by Jazep Sažyč
Personal details
Born Івонка Шыманец / Ivonka Szymaniec
(1936-04-11) April 11, 1936 (age 81)
Stołpce, Second Polish Republic
Spouse(s) Janka Survilla
Children Hanna-Pradslava Survilla, Dr. Maria Paula Survilla
Residence Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alma mater Sorbonne
Profession Translator
Website radabnr.org

Ivonka Survilla or Surviłła (Belarusian: Івонка Сурвілла, born Ivonka Szymaniec, Belarusian: Івонка Шыманец, Polish: Iwonka Szymaniec, April 11, 1936) is the self-styled President of the non-internationally recognized Belarusian People's Republic (BNR), the Belarusian government in exile.

Early life[edit]

Ivonka Survilla was born in Stołpce, then part of the Second Polish Republic (West Belarus), into the family of Uladzimier Szymaniec, an engineer, and Evelina Szymaniec née Paszkievicz.

In 1940, after the Soviet annexation of West Belarus, Uladzimier Szymaniec was arrested by the Soviets and sentenced to five years imprisonment in Gulag. He escaped due to the German attack on the USSR.[1]

In 1944 the family fled to the West through East Prussia with the thousands of other refugees and eventually reached Denmark where they lived in a refugee camp for several years. On the way Ivonka's younger sister died.[1]

In 1948 her family moved to France and settled in Paris. Survilla's family members were active participants in the life of the local Belarusian community. Ivonka Szymaniec has studied at École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and then graduated from a humanities faculty of the Sorbonne.

In 1959 Ivonka Szymaniec married Janka Survilla, a Belarusian economist, activist and radio broadcaster. With him she moved to Madrid, Spain, where they ran a Belarusian language radio programs supported by the Spanish government.[1]

In Canada[edit]

After closure of the station in 1965, in 1969 Janka and Ivonka Survilla moved to Canada where Ivonka started working as translator for the federal government. She eventually became the head of Translation Services at Health Canada.[2]

In Canada Ivonka Survilla became an active member local Belarusian organisations.

In 1989 Ivonka Survilla with the assistance of husband Janka Survilla and friends Dr. Zinaida Gimpelevitch and Ms. Pauline Paszkievicz-Smith created the Canadian Relief Fund for Chernobyl Victims in Belarus. This charitable organization provides medical aid in various forms, reciprocal medical staff visits between Canada and Belarus, food aid as well as providing health respites for children in various locations within Canada.

As President of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic[edit]

Ivonka Survilla was elected president of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in 1997. She is the first woman president of the Rada and the first president elected after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and creation of an independent Republic of Belarus.

Survilla regularly addresses the Belarusian society on March 25 and other occasions.

She is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ivonka Survilla has two daughters. One of her daughters, Dr. Maria Paula Survilla, is a professor of ethnomusicology at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.[2] Her husband Janka Survilla died in Ottawa in 1997.

Survilla has participated in more than 30 exhibitions as a painter.[2]


External links[edit]