The virtual reality experience documents Ukrainians affected by the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution in Kyiv

By Sarah Ivey

A VR demonstration is giving people the opportunity to walk through the streets of Kyiv, Ukraine while learning about the events of the Euromaidan Revolution.

On Oct. 25, 2019, people tried Aftermath VR: Euromaidan, a virtual reality experience, at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Winnipeg was the first city in North America to try this VR experience, as the event was the premiere launch.

Ukraine Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko gives opening remarks at Aftermath VR: Euromaidan event on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, at CMHR. “Winnipeg is the entry point to Canada from Ukraine,” he says while talking about Winnipeg’s vibrant Ukrainian community./SARAH IVEY

Creative Director of Aftermath VR: Euromaidan, Alexey Furman, created an experience for people to tour the Maidan Square while hearing testimonies from nine different people who were there during 2013 and 2014.

He said his goal was to recreate their journeys and to share their stories in a solitary, immersive, and calm experience.

“It’s not a reconstruction, it’s a story that can be told five years later.”

Furman graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia and is a freelance photojournalist in Ukraine, where he covered the Euromaidan Revolution.

Furman said he thinks VR is an amazing medium for storytellers due to its immersive nature and this project is one of the biggest documentary scans in modern history

“There was so much Russian propaganda, so we wanted to explain to Ukrainians and the world what really happened, in a huge way,” Furman said.

Dr. John Young, President and CEO of CMHR, attended the Maidan Museum in Kyiv and said he had to bring the VR exhibit to Winnipeg.

“I was overwhelmed by the experience.”

“The work here shows the electricity and power of those people who were in Maidan. These are stories we need to know,” Dr. Young said, “This is the reason behind this museum.”

Irka Balan tests out VR equipment at Aftermath VR: Euromaidan event at CMHR. Irka said she thinks the technology is helpful for those learning of the events of the Ukrainian Revolution./SARAH IVEY

Irka Balan said the experience was fascinating.

Balan’s parents immigrated to Canada from Ukraine before she was born but she said she has been to Maidan Square before and has enjoyed seeing it again – this time virtually.

“I can see how young people would like this,” she said. “It helps if you already know how to use the technology.”

Balan said she thinks he project is a good way to learn more about this moment in Ukraine’s history, especially for those who have never been to the square.

While the event was one night only, and so far, has only been to Winnipeg and Toronto, it will be interesting to see if VR experiences become more popular among photojournalists and storytellers.