Families of the Canadian victims who died in the Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran last month are set to get some additional financial help.
The Canada Strong fundraising initiative, launched by Mohamad Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, announced it had raised $3,293,624.75 for the families through donations and a pledge by the federal government to match contributions up to $1.5 million.
The amount is in addition to the $25,000 for each Canadian victim previously offered by the federal government.
“It’s such a warm feeling when the community comes together,” Fakih told reporters gathered at the Persian Palace restaurant in Richmond Hill.
“It’s so moving when we show that whether we are citizens by birth or by choice, whether we’ve been citizens for decades or for days, a Canadian is a Canadian.”
Fifty-seven Canadians were among the 176 people killed when the airliner was shot down on Jan. 8. In all, 138 of the passengers were en route to Canada via Kyiv.
The money is intended to help families with short-term expenses related to the crash.
Masoud Niknam, whose brother, Thornhill dentist Farhad Niknam, died in the crash, said the gesture provides both financial and emotional support.
“Canada is a unique place. Things like this, supports like this — even two months after an incident like that happened — it only happens in Canada,” he said.
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Toronto Mayor John Tory said he hopes the money will help with the healing process.
“I understand — I think we all do — that when these kinds of tragedies happen there are going to be scars no matter what,” Tory said.
“There’s healing but there are going to be scars — but you hope you can begin the healing process by joining other Canadians who wanted to help.”
Donations went through the Toronto Foundation.
The money is expected to be distributed over the next four to five weeks.