Family members of an Edmonton woman said they are “completely devastated” to find out she and her five-year-old daughter were on board the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed Sunday morning.
“You had this person with you yesterday, and now, today, they’re not there anymore,” Mohamed Ali told Global News.
“It’s heartbreaking, especially for her kids and my mom — she’s just beyond devastation.”
Ali said Amina Odowa, 33, lived in Edmonton with her three daughters, aged seven, five and three years old.
She was travelling with her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, to visit family and friends in Kenya.
“She liked to travel back home quite often to visit family,” Ali said. “It’s unbelievable. You feel like you’re in a dream and then it turns out that it’s real, not a dream.”
All 157 passengers and crew died in the crash, which occurred shortly after the airplane took off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, heading towards the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
WATCH: Kenyan transport minister confirms 157 on board plane when it crashed
The identities of the other 16 Canadian victims weren’t immediately known.
Ali said his sister was very close to their mother, who was looking after Odowa’s two other daughters. Odowa had family and friends in Edmonton and worked as a supervisor at a local company.
“She was hardworking,” Ali said.
“She was really nice, very friendly. She had a lot of friends, and everybody knew her.”
The mother and daughter left Edmonton on Friday night for Toronto, where they would board a flight en route to Kenya, never making it to their final destination.
“My brother saw [the news] on the internet that a plane had come down, and he texted me asking me if I knew Amina’s flight number,” Ali recalled.
“At the first moment, my instincts said it’s not her. In my head, I was calculating she would have been gone by now to Kenya,” he said.
Ali contacted his other sister to double check Odowa’s itinerary.
“I looked at it and I saw it was the exact same flight that she was on,” he said. “I did not want to believe it was real but eventually I got a hold of the airline, which confirmed to me that she was on that flight.
“I called my mom to let her know, and she was beyond devastated.”
Ali said Odowa’s oldest daughter has been told what happened, but he didn’t believe the younger child had been told what had happened.
The family is in contact with Foreign Affairs and is deciding their next steps, including whether to travel to the crash site.
WATCH: Relatives gather at airports after Ethiopian Airlines crash
Five-year-old Sofia was an Edmonton Public Schools student.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our students from Lorelei School,” EPS spokesperson Carrie Rosa told Global News. “Our condolences go out to the family and all those affected by this tragedy.”
The Critical Incident Support Services team would be at Lorlei School Tuesday, when students return to class.
“This team is a group of trained social workers and psychologists who support schools in the aftermath of tragic events that affect the school community,” Rosa said. “The CISS team provides direct and immediate support to students, staff and parents.
“This support takes on a number of different forms, including providing classroom, small group, individual support and short-term counseling. Support to the Lorelei School community will be ongoing as necessary.
“Not everyone grieves in the same way at the same time, so our teachers will work with students in the coming days and weeks to ensure they have the support they need.”
The Hillman Group Canada, the company Odowa worked for, provided a statement to Global News.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with Amina Odowa and her daughter, Sofia Abdulkadir, who both tragically passed away in the recent Ethiopian Airlines plane crash,” president Scott Ride said.
“All of us at Hillman Group Canada respected Amina’s work ethic and love of family.
“She was a long-time employee for almost a decade and we will always remember her as a focused motivator and kind person.”
— with files from Global’s Emily Mertz
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.