There were tears as friends and family gathered Saturday at Dalhousie University to mourn the deaths of the Halifax-based victims of Flight PS752 in Iran.
Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, Maryam Malek, Fatemeh Mahmoodi, Masoumeh Ghavi and Mahdie Ghavi were on Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 on Wednesday when it was shot down after taking off in Tehran.
Faghihi was a dentist in Halifax. Malek and Mahmoodi were financial management graduate students at Saint Mary’s University. Masoumeh Ghavi was a graduate student of network engineering at Dalhousie, while her younger sister Mahdie was about to start her studies at Dalhousie.
About 1,000 people showed up at the Rebecca Cohn Memorial Auditorium for the vigil. The tables were adorned with flowers and pictures of the victims.
Sadra Kord-Jamshidi, president of the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society, knew Masoumeh Ghavi and sang her praises.
“She was very hard working,” he said in an interview with The Signal.
Alireza Nafarieh, president of the Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia, spoke at the event. He said the vigil was not only to mourn the death of the victims but also to celebrate their lives.
He was supposed to visit Iran but didn’t go.
“Today is also the day of remembering and reminding; reminding that we could be one of the passengers,” he said.
Nafarieh said the Iranian community is sad and angry. He thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for taking action.
“All Iranians and Iranian-Canadians deserve to know what really happened,” Nafarieh said.
On Saturday, Trudeau announced he and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, discussed Iran’s admission that it mistakenly shot down the aircraft. He called it an important first step, but more needs to be done.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage expressed condolences on behalf of the municipality to the loved ones of the victims. He urged everyone at Saturday’s vigil to learn from the victims of the tragedy.
“We’re sad not simply by the tragic circumstances of their deaths, but how much wisdom, experience and potential was lost in an instant,” Savage said.
In the dark auditorium, loud sobs were heard as Faghihi’s sister-in-law, Marjan Adibi, gave her tribute.
“The only thing that I am trying to conclude from this horrible incident is that with her sudden death, she brought us together more closer,” said Adibi.
She described her sister-in-law as the blood sister she never had.
Masoumeh’s friend, Niusha Poorsha, whom she met just four months ago on an airplane to Halifax, joined the numerous people dressed in all black.
“She were perfect,” said Poorsha. “She was so kind and friendly. I’m really sorry for her.”
The Ghavi family could not be in Canada for the vigil, but Poorsha said a funeral was held in Iran for Masoumeh and Mahdie on Saturday and people came out to support the family.
Like many others at the vigil, Tanya Crawford did not know any of the victims personally but showed up to honour them.
“I have a long history with Dalhousie and just to show my support to the Iranian community especially,” said Crawford, co-ordinator of the university’s distance education program for the school of health administration.
Kord-Jamshidi thanked the people who showed up and urged them to keep supporting the Iranian community.
“As a community, we just need your help and moral support,” he said.
Flight PS752 was bound for Ukraine, but 138 passengers were headed for Canada.
Similar vigils for the victims were held on Friday in Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Guelph and Vancouver.
About the author
Seyitan is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hung her lab coat after her degree in microbiology to start a career...