EDITOR’S NOTE: On Jan. 10, the Canadian government updated the number of Canadians killed in the Jan. 8 Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran from 63 to 57.
Winnipeg’s Iranian community is experiencing an outpouring of grief and support in response to the tragic plane crash that claimed the life of 63 Canadians.
At least nine Winnipeggers were among the victims of a plane crash Wednesday in Tehran, Iran. All 176 people aboard perished.
Researcher and doctor Forough Khadem, 38, is being remembered as an outgoing, brilliant woman whose work will save tens of thousands of lives.
“Her research focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in developing immunity to a deadly infectious disease (Leishmaniasis) where she was able to identify a novel drug target for treatment,” reads her University of Manitoba bio.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Leishmaniasis infections kill up to 50,000 people yearly.
“She was an outstanding scientist, amazing mentor and great friend,” said one colleague.
Dr. Jude Uzonna from the U of M said Khadem was one of his favourite people.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said, adding he heard of the plane crash but didn’t immediately put it together that she may have been on the plane.
“She was supposed to come back on the 25th, the 25th of December,” but changed her flight. “And then I looked on the flight manifest, and her name was there.”
“Farough was such a caring human, someone who cared for humanity.”
Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, Mehdi Sadeghi and Anisa Sadeghi
Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, and their 10-year-old daughter, Anisa Sadeghi, also died in the crash.
Bahareh’s former workplace, Welcome Place, said the family was returning to Canada from holidays.
Friends said the couple were married in November 2010. They posted dozens of photos online along with their smiling daughter, showing they had travelled multiple times to British Columbia and to Iran.
Anisa and another boy, Nozhan Sadr, 11, went to schools in the Pembina Trails School Division.
School division superintendent Ted Fransen said teachers and support staff are helping students with their grief and a sudden fear of flying.
“These kids have travelled a fair bit because they’ve come to us from other countries,” said Fransen. “We have an awful lot of newcomers attending school in Pembina Trails. Having left a homeland is very real to them.
“Teachers do take an important role in mourning and grieving now, but keeping mindful of the fact that air travel is very safe.”
Amirhossein Ghasemi, 32, was on the verge of a major life milestone.
His professor, Zahara Moussavi, told Global News he was a bright student who was planning on getting married in the coming months.
“He got back to Iran to get engaged,” she said. “He was supposed to get married in summer.”
“I saw him before he left the country,” said Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, who added that the two played games together.
“I can’t use past tense. I think he’s coming back. We play again. We talk again. It’s too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it.”
Farzahen Naderi and Nozhan Sadr
Farzahen Naderi, 38, and her son Nozhan Sadr, 11, were also on the plane.
Her husband, Seyed-Moeidoddin Sadr was in Winnipeg when they died.
“Farzaneh was a generous, compassionate and kind person,” said a spokesperson from St. Amant Centre where she worked.
“She volunteered with St. Amant for three years before taking a position as an Autism Tutor in our Autism Programs where she supported preschool-aged children teaching skills to fulfill their potential.
“Farzaneh was a dedicated Autism Tutor who had a big heart and genuinely cared about the children she supported, their families and her colleagues. We are all devastated by this loss and are holding Farzaneh and her son Nozhan in our hearts and thoughts.”
The others have been identified as Amirhossein Ghorbani, 21, and dentist Farhad Niknam, 44.
The University of Manitoba Iranian Students Association is holding a vigil in honour of the victims Friday at the Faculty of Engineering’s EITC Atrium Friday starting at 4 p.m.
The Iranian Community of Manitoba is also holding a vigil Sunday afternoon for all the victims at the Caboto Centre at 1055 Wilkes Ave. The vigil will start at 2 p.m.