Maple Ridge family sponsors Ukrainian family of four

A Maple Ridge family will provide temporary accommodation to the Ukrainian family (Photo Supplied)

A Ukrainian family of four from Ukraine will soon be in Maple Ridge.

A resident of Maple Ridge for 20 years, Sabina Birgen and her family decided to sponsor a Ukrainian family arriving in Canada.

However, that was not their initial plan.


After watching the war in Ukraine unfold, Birgen and her husband decided to start saving with plans to help rebuild the war torn country.

Read: Local woman launches online community to connect Ukrainian refugees with Ridge Meadows

But they stumbled upon an online group, Ukraine Take Shelter, which helped families relocate. They signed up to offer help.

Ukraine Take Shelter has since closed its operations. At the time, it served as an independent platform that helped Ukrainian refugees connect with hosts and housing.

The process was straightforward and simple, according to Birgen. After filling out a questionnaire, she and her family were matched with a refugee family. They have since met over Zoom multiple times.

The Ukrainian family of four and a pet cat is expected to arrive in February. Birgen has everything set up for them.

The bunk bed for the girls was provided by a community member (Photo Supplied)

“They have two girls that are 12 and seven years old and they have a pet that is part of their family as well. Many pets get left behind and we considered it, as we are pet lovers as well. So we decided to take all four of them instead of splitting up the family which is happening a lot,” she said.

Within the first month of the war, 4.3 million children had been displaced, including 1.8 million children who are now refugees in neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

As men aged 18 to 60 were required to stay within the country, children and women, many unaccompanied by a partner or caregiver, had to flee.

To temporarily accommodate Ukrainian refugees, Canada Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship announced Canada-Ukraine Authorization, which allows all Ukrainian refugees to stay in the country for three years as temporary residents.

Help from the community

To prepare for the family’s arrival, Birgen asked for help on a Maple Ridge community group on Facebook. The response she received was overwhelmingly positive.

The refurbished master bedroom was previously used as a media room by the family (Photo Supplied)

“I was looking for a car seat, some cat stuff and a bunk bed and I got everything I needed and nobody wanted anything in return which was shocking. I found people to be very receptive and I got a million messages from people asking if I needed anything else,” she said.

After reading the post, Susi Wilson, owner of Bark Avenue Holistic Pet Supplies offered to help the Ukrainian family, after arrival, with a pet shopping spree for their cat.

The family has been involved in the crisis and fighting the war front and centre in Ukraine after having lost everything, Birgen said she hopes her family can help them find a house and suitable jobs.

Her son gave up his room to accommodate the incoming family while the media room in their house is set to become the master bedroom.

“I am looking forward to getting to know another culture but also I would like my kids to learn from that. I want them to understand that if you’re lucky in life, you need to push that and make that a thing for other people.”

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