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.
More than 100 people turned out for an impromptu vigil at a bakery in North Vancouver Wednesday to share their grief following the horrific crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 outside of Tehran.
The crash killed all 176 people aboard, including 63 Canadians, and at least 13 people living in B.C.
Among the dead were Ayeshe Pourghaderi and Fatemah Pasavand, wife and daughter to Amir Pasavand — owner of North Vancouver’s Amir Bakery.
Mourners lit candles and laid bouquets of flowers outside the bakery, and shared hugs and tears.
One group of people hung a banner across the front of the business reading, “Please accept our condolences for the sudden loss of your family.”
“I can’t believe it. My mind is not working,” said a man who gave his name as Amir.
“It’s like a dream. I’m dreaming.”
He said his mother worked at the bakery and spoke highly of the two women.
“They did a lot of good things for us,” he said. “They helped my mother and I a lot.”
Shahanz Oleh, a friend of Pourghaderi’s, struggled to find words to describe her loss.
“She was very lovely, very kind, and she was a very hard worker. Working hard every day,” she said.
She said Pourghaderi and her daughter were inseparable, doing everything together.
“So, so close.” she said.
Others who turned out to the vigil had no connection to the family, and simply sought a chance to share their grief with the community.
“When something like this happens, it’s not tolerable. It’s so hard,” said Pegah, a regular customer of the bakery.
“There was more than 20 kids in the plane. I don’t know what their parents are going to do. That’s so bad. It’s so bad.”
A man who gave his name as Reza said he had tuned into the news Tuesday to watch for updates on the Iranian missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq when he learned of the crash.
“It was such sad news, and shattered the community, especially North Vancouver,” he said.
The latest census shows about 44,000 Canadians of Iranian background living in the Vancouver area, almost a quarter of them in North Vancouver.
While Reza didn’t know anyone aboard, he said the crash still struck close to home.
“My niece is a student in the Ukraine, Kyiv,” he said. “She used that airline many times.”
He added that he was heartened to see the outpouring of support from Canadians int he wake of the tragedy.
North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma also attended the vigil, posting photos and tweeting that the air was “thick with mourning.”
“My heart is broken,” she wrote.
The crash happened early Wednesday morning, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.
However, Ukrainian and Iranian officials have both said a mechanical issue likely caused the Boeing 737-800 aircraft to crash.
Airline officials said most of the passengers aboard the aircraft were en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
— With files from Sean Boynton