Skip to main content

Barrie marks Ukrainian Independence Day as many learn of country's challenging past


A difficult part of Ukraine's past is on display outside the Barrie Public Library this week, coinciding with the marking of a positive part of the country's history.

A flag-raising ceremony was held outside Barrie City Hall this evening to mark the Independence Day of Ukraine. On Aug. 24, 1991, the country officially parted ways with the Soviet Union.

"I, Alex Nuttall Mayor, do hereby proclaim Aug. 24, 2023, as Ukrainian Independence Day here in the City of Barrie," the mayor said during the ceremony, which was attended by dozens of people including many local dignitaries.

"On this Ukrainian Independence Day, I am saddened that today cannot be a proper moment of celebration," said Roman Plawiuk, the event's organizer. "But it can be a moment of pride for the county you have built, for the people bravely protecting it and for the values we hold dear. You are not alone. Canadians stand with you, and fate shall smile upon you once more."

The Ukrainian Holiday comes at the same time that the Holodomor Mobile Classroom began its three-day visit to the Barrie Public Library. A project of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, the bus visits communities across the country, teaching Canadians about the Holodomor, a famine genocide that claimed millions of Ukrainian lives in 1932 and 1933.

"What we want to do is to teach Canadians, most importantly students, of the genocide and also at the same time give them the opportunity to learn about democratic values, about tolerance, about civility and how they can make a difference in the world today," said Roma Dzerowicz, the project manager.

The bus has been touring communities throughout Canada since 2016. The idea came after a push to create a museum honouring the problematic realities of the Holodomor. However, with costs pegged at tens of millions of dollars, the idea for a mobile classroom was born.

"So the idea came about to create a mobile entity that would be able to travel to places across Canada and, most importantly, to places where communities in Northern Ontario, Northern Canada, Northern Alberta would not have the ability to travel in to see a museum," said Dzerowicz.

What happens inside the bus depends on where it is parked. When doing community days, such as this week with the Barrie Public Library, it generally features documentaries on the Holodomor. However, the experience is different when the bus visits schools. More lessons are taught, with individual iPads available for each student, aiming to teach them a part of history that Dzerowicz said many people don't know about.

"Canada is a country that has given us the opportunity to speak freely about events that are happening, and so students are the seeds of future leaders. It is up to them to start taking a stand."

The Holodomor Mobile Classroom will be outside the Painswick Library Branch on Friday and the Essa Library Branch on Saturday. Top Stories

Air turbulence: When can it become dangerous?

Flight turbulence like that encountered by a Singapore Airlines flight on Tuesday is extremely common, but there's one aspect of severe turbulence an aviation expert says can lead to serious injury.

'Mr. Trump doesn't worry us', says Canadian ambassador

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues the 'Team Canada' charm offensive to U.S. lawmakers and business leaders, Canada's ambassador to the United States downplayed the effect of another Trump presidency on Canada.

Stay Connected