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Timmins Recognizes 200 Years of Shevchenko, 175 Years of Kobzar, and over 100 Years of Ukrainian Immigrant Contribution to the Porcupine
By David Yaschyshyn – Chair,Kobzar Park Rejuvenation Committee

Timmins Ontario recognized their Ukrainian pioneers, as well as their Bard on Saturday August 22, 2015, the same weekend that celebrated Ukraine’s 24thIndependence.
Over 75 from around the region of North-Eastern Ontario and North-Western Quebeccame to witnessthe rededication of Kobzar Park and unveiling of a new statue to Taras Shevchenko. Attendees from Timmins and Porcupine were joined by fellow guests fromKapuskasing, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard, Sudburyand Val D’Or Quebec.The park was officially established in 1981 and dedicated in 1984 to recognize the contributions of pioneer settlers to Canada and the Timmins-Porcupine Gold Camp.
This special project was initiated back in December 2013, with the formation of the Kobzar Park Rejuvenation Committee. Many members of that committee also serve with the Ukrainian Cultural Group of Timmins (former Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Timmins). Theirgroup provided $1500 seed funding to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Taras Shevchenko. The committee’s main goal was to replace a marble statue of Shevchenko, sculpted by Petro Movchun (1925-2010) of Kiev, Ukraine that was installed in Kobzar Park back in 1984. That original statue was vandalized beyond repair in the early 2000’s, afterbeing toppled over and landing head first into the ground.
Fundraising efforts began after receiving permission from the City of Timmins who owns and maintains Kobzar Park.  In March 2014 the group celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Taras Shevchenko by donating a book of his famous poetry “Kobzar” as translated by Peter Fedynsky to the Timmins Public Library.
Grants applications were made and positively received by the Taras Shevchenko Foundation of Canada, Temerty Family Foundation, Ukrainian Credit Union, Sudbury Ukrainian Seniors Centre, and local companies.
Combined with many individual and family donations, the committee was ableto commission asculptor to create a 4 foot bronze statue depicting a wise Shevchenko in traditional clothing. In fact this is the first monument ofShevchenkoto our knowledge in over 600 worldwide installations that depict him in full length coat while wearing histraditional Persian lamb skin hat. Many busts of Shevchenko depict him with a hat on, but none have shown him full length with hat until now. The inspiration was Shevchenko’sself-portraitfrom 1860 and follow-up research by the sculptor to replicate the traditional foot wear and clothingof the times. The chosen clothing is very fittingand protective of the very cold and harsh climate experienced in North-Eastern Ontario and reminiscent of his imprisoned years in Siberia.
The sculptor chosen was Tyler Fauvelle, who is based a short distance away in the town of Lively in Greater Sudbury. He has come to appreciate the First Nations and Immigrant contributions to Canada and Northern Ontario, having depicted them in many of his works. Local contractor, Northern Industrial Service Group (NISG), stepped up and completed all the landscaping. A grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and support from the Timmins Horticultural Society helped with flowers, shrubs, and planters.
Ceremony began at 11am, with the singing of the Canadian National Anthem. Children of treasurer Susan Tesluk were flag bearers, holding the flags of Canada and Ukraine for the duration of the 1 hour program.First a ribbon cutting was held to re-dedicate the park, and a new replacement Kobzar figurine with shimmering red boots and bandura uniquely constructed in stained glass by area artist Tanya Thurston of Thurston Stained Glass was unveiled on the metal entrance way to the park.
Gary Scripnick former City of Timmins Councillor with pioneer parents to Timmins dating back to 1919 presided as Master of Ceremonies. He read words of congratulations from a letter by Andrew Gregorovich, president of the Taras Shevchenko Museum in Toronto, where it was noted that Timmins joins Winnipeg, Ottawa and Quebec City as one of four monuments to Shevchenko in Canada. 
Those partaking in this special program included Timmins Mayor, Steve Black who exalted at the contributions of all the volunteers. Downtown Timmins BIA Executive Director NoellaRinaldo showed her gratitude for the beautification of the downtown. Representativefor MPP Gilles Bisson, AndreGrzela presented a special recognition plaque from Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne that congratulated “the Ukrainian Cultural Group of Timmins who coordinated the Kobzar Park Rededication and the Shevchenko Statue Unveiling, Let this be a reminder of the dedicated Ukrainian Pioneers of Timmins and the Porcupine Camp. Presented August 22, 2015”
Timmins Museum Director, Karen Bachmann recounted the “Little park with big ties to heritage” and how the special gift from Society Ukrainain 1984 provided a statue of Taras Shevchenko that was once the main figure in Kobzar Park.
A gift of a vintage portrait of Shevchenko was received at the ceremony from the estate of Mary CatarelloBarilko. Committee member, Catherine Klopoushakrecited a translated version of Shevchenko’s “Zapovit”.
Chair of the Kobzar Park Rejuvenation Committee – David Yaschyshyn recounted the projects progress and hurdles, and thanked all who contributed to the committee achieving its goals. He pointed out the flowers in the gardenswere chosen to recreate an early immigrant garden(with reminiscences of Ukraine). The sunflowers were in full bloom for the unveiling.
The CTO – The One Hundred Plaques Across Canada plaque unveiled in 2014 at the Timmins Museum, was mounted on an aluminum post and installed as a backstop to one of the gardens in Kobzar Park.
The Shevchenko Statue was then unveiled by Sculptor Fauvelle and Chair Yaschyshyn. The new brass plaque beneath the statue reads “200th ANNIVERSARY OF TARAS SHEVCHENKO, UKRAINIAN POET AND ARTIST, IN COMMEMORATION OF UKRAINIAN IMMIGRANTS TO THE PORCUPINE“.
Reverend Monsignor Lev Chayka of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church, Val D’Or blessed the statue and park. He praised all those in attendance, and instilled the importance of today’s unveiling in both Ukrainian and English. After his blessings the group stood and sang the Ukrainian National Anthem.
Media (tv, radio, newspaper)conducted interviews, and all attendee’s were invited to the Timmins Museum for a light lunch and reception where they could take in a display of project related news articles, a Kobzar book of poetry, portraits of Shevchenko, and a stringed Bandura.

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