Anastasia Shkilnyk, Supporter of Moral Leadership, died on May 13th, aged 68
Extraordinary people have always inspired me. One can be extraordinary in many ways – I was greatly inspired during my first encounter with Anastasia Shkilnyk, in 2012 at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. A truly captivating and charming woman she explained with abundant passion the thinking behind the Light of Justice Award, a prize that she had established to recognise individuals, who throughout their lives had made a significant difference to Ukraine through principled and moral leadership. Alongside the award Anastasia also launched a scholarship for students who have potential and show promise as future moral leaders.
Born in a Displaced Persons camp in southern Germany in 1945, her parents and other relatives were fleeing Stalin’s scourge of their Ukrainian homeland. Her father, who later became the much-respected Judge, Mykhailo Shkilnyk, had been renowned for his scrupulous fairness. He had influenced the young Anastasia with principles and values of social justice – love, compassion, integrity and moral courage.
She lived in Canada for most of her life and was recognised for her book A Poison Stronger than Love, about how the lives of North America’s aboriginal people have been influenced since the arrival of the Europeans.
In the midst of a battle with oesophageal cancer, Anastasia continued to work for the subjugated, continuing to fundraise, including supporting the child refugees of the conflict in Syria. Her battle with cancer could not be won, and she succumbed to the disease on May 13, 2014.
Anastasia focused on moral leadership, on those who light a candle in the darkness and who illuminate for a better world. She set out to recognise those who could serve as role models for future Ukrainian generations by supporting those who have the courage to swim against the tide.
I encourage you to watch this short video of Anastasia describing the Light of Justice award.
May her soul Rest in Peace
Andy Hunder is Director of the Ukrainian Institute in London