Edmonton’s Iranian community continues to feel an outpouring of support in the wake of the plane crash in Iran that claimed the lives of more than a dozen locals.
As plans for a public memorial service come together, the University of Alberta is also making arrangements to honour the 10 people connected to the school who were killed.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made a quiet visit to Edmonton on Thursday to meet with victims’ loved ones.
“She went to the University of Alberta first,” said Amir Ghahari, treasurer of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton (IHSE).
“Ms. Freeland told us it was very emotional. She spent a significant amount of time listening to everyone. There was lots of crying. It was very emotional.
“Same thing with us,” said Ghahari, who explained members of the IHSE were situated in a separate private meeting room.
“I was touched personally by the amount of passion she had for us, listening to our requests, and it was very touching,” Ghahari said.
“I think I can speak for everyone else… we all felt supported… and empathy. Having somebody from government listening to you, passing on condolences in such a hard time, it means a lot.”
He said the community has been overwhelmed by the support it has felt from Edmontonians and Canadians at large.
“To all friends and family, Edmonton, Iranians or Canadians, it doesn’t matter,” Ghahari said. “We were all flooded with messages and support — and not just words; practically — we received so much support from the community.
“I’d like to say, on behalf of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, as well as our community, I’m thankful. It’s sad that we had to get together for this reason, but it’s definitely touching when you see such love and support around you from the community, so thank you.”
A public memorial service is being held at the Saville Centre on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Ghahari said the society set up a GoFundMe page to help with families’ funeral costs and any other costs they may incur in the wake of the tragedy.
“This entire thing happened so quick that we don’t know exactly what this money is going to be used for. We know the purpose is to help the families.
“Funeral, any costs associated with the funerals, memorials, services, for that and also families, if they need anything.”
The society hopes to raise about $20,000. After offering support to local families, Ghahari said the remaining funds will be put towards an endowment fund at the U of A.
“The University of Alberta is in the process of establishing an endowment fund for the U of A graduate students in the memory of professors (Mojgan) Daneshmand and (Pedram) Mousavi — who passed away in this tragedy with their two daughters, unfortunately — students and other victims of this plane crash.”
The married couple were both engineering professors at the university.
This is the second fundraising page set up by someone connected to the IHSE. The other one had raised over $22,000 as of Friday afternoon.