The Town of Bonnyville invited people from across the Lakeland to take part in the raising of the Ukrainian flag at Town Hall on Friday.

Approximately 200 people were on hand, including Mayor Elise Brosseau and Bonnyville town councillors. They were joined by MLA Davis Hanson and representatives from neighbouring communities.

Father Peter Haugen, of All Saints Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Paul, led the reciting of The Lord’s Prayer in Ukrainian, and offered special prayers for the occasion.

Brosseau and other town councillors raised the flag as a recording of the Ukrainian national anthem was played.

Brosseau said town council had received requests from citizens for an official expression of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

“What prompted council in the beginning was Ukrainian residents who reached out to us and asked if we would do a ceremony,” Brosseau said.

“We knew it was important to raise the flag. But it got us thinking that there are a lot of Ukrainian people in this region who came and homesteaded here,” she said. “So I think it was important for us to do an actual event and bring people together, rather than just put the flag up.”

Brosseau said Bonnyville’s ties to Ukrainian culture extend throughout the community, even to her own family.

“My mother in law’s mom came directly from Ukraine, so some of the things that she does with my kids are important, like making Paska bread at Easter and just passing down some of those traditions,” she said. “I think it’s really important to connect those generations to a homeland or culture that should still be passed on.”

She was impressed to see so many people turn out for the event.

“Today’s event really showed that local support,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve seen this many people go to an event hosted by the the town in quite some time.”

Attendees displayed the colours of the Ukrainian flag at Friday’s ceremony. Father Peter Haugen (below left) and
Bonnyville mayor Elise Brosseau (below right) were among those who addressed the crowd. JEFF GAYE