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Ivonka Survilla


Ivonka Survilla

Ivonka Survilla
7th President of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic
Assumed office
Preceded by Jazep Sažyč
Personal details
Born Івонка Шыманец / Iwonka Szymaniec
(1936-04-11) April 11, 1936
Stołpce, Second Polish Republic
Spouse(s) Janka Survilla
Children Paulina Survilla, Hanna-Pradslava Survilla
Residence Toronto, Canada (Private)
Alma mater Sorbonne
Profession Translator
Religion Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Ivonka Survilla or Surviłła (Belarusian: Івонка Сурвілла, born April 11, 1936 in Stołpce, then part of the Second Polish Republic (West Belarus), now in Minsk Voblast of Belarus, as Ivonka Shymaniets; Belarusian: Івонка Шыманец, Polish: Iwonka Szymaniec) is the current President of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR), the Belarusian government in exile.


  • Early life 1
  • In Canada 2
  • As President of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Ivonka Survilla was born into the family of Uladzimier Shymaniets, an engineer, and Evelina Shymaniets née Pashkievich.

In 1940, after the Soviet annexation of West Belarus, Uladzimier Shymaniets was arrested by the Soviets and sentenced to five years of concentration camps. He escaped deportation to the Gulag and execution 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 Survilla'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 Survilla has studied one year at an art school and then graduated from a humanities faculty of the Sorbonne.

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

In Canada

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 head of department at Health Canada.[2]

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

In 1986, shortly after the Chernobyl disaster, Survilla and Zina Gimpelevich 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

Ivonka Survilla was elected president of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in 1997, after the death of Jazep Sažyč. 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

Ivonka Survilla has two daughters, her elder daughter Paulina Survilla is a historian of music.[2] Her husband Janka Survilla died in 1997.

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


  1. ^ a b c The Road from Stoupcy to Copenhagen to Paris to Madrid to Ottawa to Miensk — The Memoirs of Ivonka Survilla (in Belarusian)
  2. ^ a b c Нашчадкі мастака Ўладзімера Шыманца працягваюць беларускія традыцыі і прадстаўляюць беларускую культуру ў заходніх унівэрсытэтах.
  3. ^ "Prague Declaration - Declaration Text". 3 June 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 

External links

  • Official page on Belarusian People's Republic Rada website
  • Ivonka Survilla answers questions (Belarusian)
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