by Jessica Feader, Office of Advancement
Vivien and Milton Boniuk honour the member of their parents and siblings with a gift to the Kellogg.
During her early childhood days, Vivien Boniuk (MD’64) didn’t have access to many books. At first, the only books she had were the ones left behind from the prior owners of her family home in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
Her parents were European immigrants to Canada, supporting five children in the small coal mining town in Cape Breton, so money was tight. But, education was important to them and they worked extremely hard to send all five children to Dalhousie.
“A red-letter day for me was when the Glace Bay library opened,” recalls Dr. Boniuk. As an avid reader, she remembers this day fondly. This was the same year that she was old enough to reach the pedals on her brother’s bike and ride into town.
Studying medicine at Dal in the 1960s
This fondness for reading and research established during her early years led Dr. Boniuk to Dal’s medical program.
As a medical student, Dr. Boniuk cherished her time at Dalhousie. “Not many women were in medicine at the time,” she says. “There were five females in my class, which was a substantial number in the 60s.” Dr. Boniuk describes her peer group fondly, recounting an “esprit de corps” among her classmates.
Giving back to her alma mater
Her passion for books, love of medicine and appreciation of her parents’ sacrifices inspired Dr. Boniuk, along with her siblings, to establish the Hyman & Rachel Boniuk Memorial Fund to support the W.K. Kellogg Health Sciences Library in 1989. “Our parents sacrificed a lot for us, so we wanted to honour them.” A portrait of her parents still hangs in the Kellogg Library, along with a plaque in memory of them.
“As the costs of books and journals increase, these funds have been critical to enhancing our library’s collection every year,” says Ann Barrett, Dalhousie Libraries’ Associate University Librarian Scholarly Communications & Head of the Kellogg Library. This year the earnings from the fund were used to purchase 600 electronic medical books, which will benefit medical students on Dalhousie’s Halifax and Saint John campuses.
“A library is a magical place,” says Dr. Boniuk. Seeing the impact and careful stewardship of the fund motivated Dr. Boniuk and her brother, Milton (MD’56), to make an additional gift of $50,000 (USD) to the fund in honour of their three siblings who passed away.
In October, the library hosted a reception to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Faculty, staff, students and friends had the privilege of meeting Dr. Boniuk, who traveled from New York where she has spent
53 years building a successful career in Ophthalmology. She was delighted to be back in Nova Scotia with her husband and son, as the last time she set foot on campus was for her own 50th class reunion.
“I hope that our gift will give students access to the information they need to excel in Dal’s medical program.”