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Hospital playing it safe by removing Martin Hunka from its website

'He has and continues to serve in the capacity of Chair, with the utmost integrity'
Martin (left) and his father Yaroslav Hunka listens as the House of Commons gives him a standing ovation on Sept. 22, 2023. Hunka served with a volunteer division under the Nazis in the Second World War.

The North Bay Regional Health Centre says it is just playing it safe. 

The hospital was questioned recently about its removal of Martin Hunka from its Foundation Board website. They insist the name has been removed off of the website only. 

The family has received intense media scrutiny after Martin's 98-year-old father Yaroslav Hunka received a standing ovation in the House of Commons on Sept. 22 after being introduced by Speaker Anthony Rota as "a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero'' during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to Ottawa.

The incident drew widespread international criticism after it was revealed Hunka was a member of a volunteer unit created by the Nazis to fight the Soviet Union. The revelation forced the resignation of MP Anthony Rota as Speaker and an apology on behalf of Parliament by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Journalists from Canada and beyond have been attempting to find the family, including trying to find the Hunka family home in the North Bay area as well travelling to Martin's former workplace to try and find him. 

Most recently the family has taken down a majority of its contact information online and in social media. 

Tammy Morison, President of the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation noted that they had removed Martin Hunka's name and information from their website too. 

“Martin Hunka was elected as a Trustee to the Foundation Board on his own merits in 2015," Morison stated in an email to BayToday on Wednesday.  

"He has and continues to serve in the capacity of Chair, with the utmost integrity. He has a longstanding history of serving our community and our Foundation. The decision to remove his information temporarily from the website was made in an effort to protect the safety and privacy of all those involved including volunteers and staff.”

See related: Letter: Hospital Foundation shouldn't erase ties to Hunka family

Some area residents recognized Martin Hunka's name is now off the Hospital Foundation site. Some criticized the move after the University of Alberta chose to give back a $30,000 endowment fund which was given to the university in the family's name. 

"Similarly to the University of Alberta, the Hospital Foundation has also accepted donations from the Hunka family," stated Rejean Venne, a Sturgeon Falls resident.  

"However, as opposed to the University of Alberta, the North Bay Hospital seems to be simply trying to erase its past affiliation. As of this week, they have removed all mention of Martin from their website and social media pages and have removed him from the list of board trustees." 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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