Olya Kurney-Williams is a second generation Ukrainian Canadian born in Smuts, Saskatchewan. She was educated in Toronto and her post secondary education included Business and Administration. In Toronto, Olya was heavily immersed in every aspect of Ukrainian Culture.
As a member of a military family Olya experienced Ukrainian Cultural activities/organizations all across Canada. In Halifax there was no such organization and so through her own personal and lengthy efforts, eventually assisted by others, a local Ukrainian Canadian Association, Halifax/Dartmouth Region (UCA/HD) was formed in 1977. This family oriented enterprise provides a means for numerous families to rekindle and preserve an interest in their Ukrainian heritage.
The UCA/HD became part of the Ukrainian Canadian mainstream by becoming members of the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS), and the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation (UCP&BF). Olya became Atlantic Vice-President of the Federation. She was the first and only female on the National Executive at that time. (The UCA/HD is currently a member the Ukrainian Canadian Congress).
Some of Olya’s other achievements include representation in the Prime Minister’s Office resulting in the establishment of a Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto in 1980, co-chairing the UCP&BF convention in Halifax in 1991, participation in the UCA/HD involvement in a Ukrainian Cultural Display – Community Presents Program at Pier 21 in Halifax in 2012.
Olya continues today as Advisor to the UCA/HD where she continues to promote and foster the preservation of Ukrainian Culture and Traditions in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.