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Chippewa student's humanitarian efforts for Ukraine include sending first aid supplies home

The focus for the collection will now shift to exclusively first aid supplies and kits. Community members, please call from Chippewa's front doors if you have first aid donations
2022 03 07 Chippewa Ukraine Bracelets (Chippewa SS) (2)
These bracelets made by Mariia Zagrebelna and friends in the colours of Ukraine are offered as thanks for donations.

As challenging as it has been, Chippewa student Mariia Zagrebelna has been keeping her mind occupied by tackling a school project that has meaning to her far beyond the walls of the school.

Zagrebelna moved to Canada from Ukraine with her family in 2019 and the recent Russian military action has naturally been top of mind for them. 

See related: People flee embattled Ukraine city, supplies head to another

Born and raised until the age of 14 in the capital of Kyiv, Zagrebelna admits to initially feeling "useless," when it came to finding ways she could help her family and friends who remain in Ukraine and soon found herself seeking a way to support her home country's cause from afar.

"I wanted to be there to help but I'm in Canada," she says.

A Grade 12 International Baccalaureate student, Zagrebelna is coordinating the collection of donated goods with plans to soon send a bulk shipment of needed items to Ukraine. Donations have poured in, and the Zagrebelna family thanks the community for its support as many items on the initial list were collected.

The focus for the collection will now shift to exclusively first aid supplies and kits. Zagrebelna will gratefully continue to collect items until Thursday, March 10 at the school. Community members are asked to call the school at 705.475.2341 from the front doors on Chippewa Street West if they have first aid donations.

"All the people are in basements and subways because of the bombing," says Zagrebelna about the shift in donations. "First aid kits are the priority. We don't how many of those people will be injured."

As a thank you for donations, Zagrebelna and a group of friends made braided bracelets (pictured) in the Ukrainian national colours for the community to wear in recognition of the crisis in Ukraine. 

"What is happening there now is very impactful to me and the citizens of Ukraine. Many cities are now destroyed, and people are in need of our support," she shares. 

With the school's approval, Zagrebelna will receive credit for her humanitarian efforts. Her CAS — creativity, activity and service — project assignment is part of her IB diploma program. The assignment directs students to take the initiative and show perseverance in coordinating their projects while incorporating those three concepts.

"I was not expecting this much support," from the Chippewa community she says. "It has been so much support and it means so much."

The staff and administration at Chippewa have been mindful to assist the 17-year-old in balancing the realities of the Ukraine situation with her academic pursuits, encouraging Zagrebelna to shift her focus to her life outside of school when needed.

See: Local Ukrainian business leaders sending armoured vests home to help protect forces

Part of a small Ukrainian community in North Bay, Mariia and her younger sister both attend Chippewa and their father is one of the three partners in Canada Meat Group who relocated their families here three years ago. They attended the peace vigil held last Friday and Mariia says they were touched by the outpouring of support from the community.

See also: Prayers for the end of the Russian-Ukraine crisis at Peace Vigil in North Bay

And: City of North Bay raises Ukrainian flag and West Nipissing stands with Ukraine

Zagrebelna acknowledges the transition from Kyiv to North Bay was difficult and she was homesick at first but she has come to enjoy her new surroundings. Moving continents as a teenager made communication with people back home important, even more so now as the families seek news from Ukraine. Zagrebelna says she knows her school project will do some good and help her feel connected to her loved ones back home who face uncertainty amid the Russian encirclement of Kyiv.

Adds Zagrebelna, "Thank you to the people who have supported us."

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Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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