Iranian music was barely able to drown out the sound of weeping Saturday night as mourners gathered to honour an obstetrician and her two daughters, who were all on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight that was shot down in Iran on Wednesday evening.
All 176 aboard died in the incident, including 57 Canadians and 13 Edmontonians.
Dr. Shekoufeh Choupannejad was 50 years old and was travelling with her daughters Saba and Sara Saadat, born in 1998 and 1996.
Dr. Choupannejad worked at the Northgate Medical Clinic in Edmonton and often helped new Iranian-Canadians in the city find health-care options, said friends and family.
Saba had studied at the University of Alberta and earned a Bachelor of Science before applying to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.
Sara had also attended the U of A and had earned a Bachelor of Science, and had recently been accepted into a clinical psychology program at Alliant University in San Diego, Calif.
Black-clad friends gathered at a memorial in the Ambleside neighbourhood to watch slideshows containing photos of the smiling women.
Shayesteh Majdnia, a friend of Dr. Choupannejad, helped organize the event, which is open to the public, but mainly is meant to allow friends and family to heal.
“I strongly can say that Shekoufeh was the most kind person ever,” Majdnia said. “She was always there for the community.
“We need to get together, because we never had the time to grieve. It was such a big shock to the community.”
The friends first met at a fundraiser and Majdnia said in the years following, Dr. Choupannejad was always willing to help newcomers settle into life in Edmonton.
The location for the memorial was chosen as it was the last place the group of friends gathered. In October they celebrated Majdnia’s birthday.
Saturday’s event was far more heartbreaking but Majdnia said it was important that everyone could share their stories in person rather than over the phone as had been the case all week.
“Without talking about it, it’s difficult.”
A public memorial service for all the victims will also be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in attendance and is expected to speak.
The memorial is being organized by the local Iranian-Canadian community, the university and the city.