Condolences to the families and friends. In the aftermath of the deadly Ukraine Flight PS752 crash, Canadians are left to mourn not just the loss of life, but the loss of the future so many of the victims had hoped to help build. The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was en route to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, when it crashed shortly after take off, killing all aboard. There were 63 Canadians on the flight and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 passengers were on their way to Toronto.
US sanctions have made it increasingly difficult to travel between Iran and Canada, and the Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran to Kiev and then to Toronto is popular because it is one of the most affordable options for the journey, said Younes Zangiabadi with the Iranian Canadian Congress.
“Canadians have questions and they deserve answers,” he told media in Ottawa on Wednesday evening. Mr Trudeau said Canada would work closely with its partners to ensure the crash is thoroughly investigated – and would be requesting the presence of Canadian officials in Tehran to assist families seeking consular assistance, as well as to participate in any investigation into the cause of the incident.
Edmonton has around 4,300 people of Iranian origin, according to a 2016 Statistics Canada census, compared to about 95,000 in the Greater Toronto Area and 45,000 in Vancouver. At a Wednesday media availability, Reza Akbari, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, estimated Edmonton’s Iranian community is closer to 5,000 people, and up to 6,000 when students are included.
He said the University of Alberta has been a popular destination for Iranian students because it’s perceived as one of the top research universities in the country, specifically citing their engineering, energy and environment programs.
Masoud Ardakani, the University of Alberta’s associate chair of electrical and computer engineering, confirmed in an email that professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi were on the flight, along with their daughters Daria, 14, and Dorina, 9.
Daneshmand is listed as an associate professor in the engineering department at U of A, as well as Canada Research Chair Tier II in Radio Frequency (RF) Microsystems for Communication and Sensing. Mousavi worked in the same department as a professor in mechanical engineering.
Friend Nooran Ostadeian remembered Daneshmand and Mousavi as the “happiest couple” she had known. Ostadeian had known them since 2010 when she helped them find a home as a real estate agent when they moved to Edmonton.
“I want them to be remembered as a symbol of love, community members who did a lot … Great teachers for their students.”
Maryam Hajazi, who coached Dorina in a soccer program, remembers the girl as being intelligent and curious. She would frequently ask questions about techniques and how she could be the best player she could be.
“She most probably got the gene from her parents,” Hajazi said. “She was so smart, everyone liked her.”
The Calgary Board of Education, meanwhile, confirmed that Arshia Arbabbahrami was an international student in Grade 12 at Western Canada School, who was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran.
Principal Carma Cornea sent an email to students and families that said Arbabbahrami was active in track, as well as the swim and dive teams: “He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to.”
Ramin Fathian worked in the same office as Nasim Rahmanifar, who was working on her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the U of A and was considering a second master’s or doctorate.