By David Judd
A brand new Ukrainian flag flies on a pole outside Norfolk County’s administration building in Simcoe.
It’s a gesture from county council “to show solidarity for Ukraine as it fights for democracy and freedom — and for members of the community who have family and friends impacted by these tragic events.”
The county ordered the flag specially and raised it last Thursday, joining communities and countries around the world showing support for Ukraine.
And, coming soon, a second Ukrainian flag — one with a Port Dover connection — will fly in Norfolk’s council chamber or another public place.
For the last week, Andrew Kicak has been looking for somewhere to fly a flag given to him by Ukrainian friends who proudly flew it in front of their home when they lived in Port Dover a few years ago.
Here’s the story.
Mr. Kicak (pronounced Key-sack) is of Ukrainian descent and speaks the language fairly well.
When he moved to Port Dover in 2016, he was introduced to a Ukrainian family who had recently moved to town.
The Ukrainian family integrated well. Their kids went to local schools.
They rented a house with a flag pole and flew the Ukrainian flag as a show of support for their homeland, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Flying the flag was an act of patriotism and a sign of the family’s close connection with Canada, Mr. Kicak said in an interview.
In 2019, the family returned to Ukraine after a family member became ill.
Before they left Port Dover, the father in the family gave the flag to Mr. Kicak and asked him to make sure it flies.
But Mr. Kicak doesn’t have a flag pole so the flag was packed away.
Mr. Kicak has kept in touch with the Ukrainian family, who like millions of their fellow citizens, have been in a dangerous and precarious situation since Russia invaded two weeks ago.
On the weekend, the Ukrainian couple were safe in western Ukraine. The husband had joined the territorial defence force. Their son had been evacuated to Poland.
Mr. Kicak won’t identify the family for security reasons.
He says Russia scours the internet for information about people like his friends.
Mr. Kicak lost sleep over the situation in Ukraine.
Then Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin put out the word that Norfolk County was looking for a Ukrainian flag to fly at its Simcoe headquarters.
Mr. Kicak tore his house apart, found his friends’ flag and immediately stepped forward.
“This was the flag!” he said in an interview.
He made arrangements and dropped off the flag at the county administration building.
But, sadly, the Port Dover Ukrainian flag didn’t work with the county’s pole.
The county bought a brand new flag and raised it Thursday morning.
The new Ukrainian flag joins Canadian and Ontario flags flying on poles on the front lawn of the administration building on Colborne Street.
At first, Mr. Kicak was disappointed but he quickly recovered.
“I am heartened by the fact that the county is still flying a Ukrainian flag at the seat of our local government,” he wrote in an email to The Maple Leaf.
“In the end, the flag is just coloured fabric — it’s the symbol it represents that’s most important. And that has still gone forward.
“I’ve also been reassured that the county WILL find a public spot to put up my flag somewhere. So I guess, we’ll be getting two flags put up — and that’s a net benefit.”
Coun. Martin hopes Mr. Kicak’s flag will be displayed in the county council chamber when in-person meetings resume on March 22.
If that doesn’t happen, she’s certain the flag will find a home somewhere in public.
The flag is a symbol of solidarity and hope, Mr. Kicak says.
He plans to take a photo of the flag flying in Norfolk and send it to his friends in Ukraine. It will boost their morale, he said.