Belarusian émigré writer Kastus Akula (Alyaksandr Kachan) died in Canada on January 29 at the age of 82 after a long period of illness, Alena Makowskaya, chairwoman of the Batskawshchyna World Association of Belarusians, told BelaPAN.
Kastus Akula was born in the village of Veratsey (near modern-day Dokshytsy, Vitsyebsk region) in 1925. He was trained at the Officers' School of Belaruskaya Krayovaya Abarona (Belarusian Home Defense) in 1944.
He fought against the Nazis as a soldier with General Władysław Anders’ Polish II Corps in Italy. He took part in the famous Battle of Monte Cassino (Battle for Rome) in 1944 and received two military awards from the Italian government. He graduated from the British Officers’ School in 1946 and was promoted to the rank of corporal. He briefly lived in Italy and Britain before leaving for Canada in 1947.
While in Canada, Kastus Akula was involved in founding Belarusian community organizations, establishing a church in Toronto, teaching Sunday schools, editing a Belarusian-language magazine and a newspaper, and maintaining ties with Belarusians living in the United States. He was one of the founders and the first chairman of the Belarusan Canadian Alliance.
His literary legacy includes the novels Zmaharnyya Darohi (Fighting Roads), Za Volyu (For Freedom) and the trilogy Haravatka. He was the first Belarusian emigrant to write a novel in English. Titled Tomorrow is Yesterday, the book explores the fates of Belarusians and Belarus before and after World War II.