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Calgary teen killed in Iran plane crash remembered with memorial scholarship

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WATCH: A Calgary high school student who was one of the victims of the Iran plane crash is being remembered through a scholarship set up in his name. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Jan 8, 2021

A Calgary high school student who was one of the victims of the Iran plane crash in 2020 is being remembered through a scholarship set up in his name.

Arshia Arbabbahrami was a passenger on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 leaving Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.

Arbabbahrami was just 19 years old. He was an international student from Iran at Western Canada High School.

He’s being remembered by staff at the school as a dedicated student, athlete and as a gentle soul.

Read more: ‘The documentary is like a letter to my wife’: Edmonton man produces film about Iran plane tragedy

“It’s such a loss for everyone and for the world,” said Western Canada High School counsellor Linda Forde.

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“When I see his picture I just remember how polite and gentle he was. Honestly, I can’t stress that enough,” Forde said on Friday, holding back tears.

She said a scholarship has now been established in Arbabbahrami’s name. It will be awarded to students who display his qualities in academics, athletics and commitment to community.

Arshia Arbabbahrami Memorial Award

“His marks were excellent, the teachers all really enjoyed him. He was dedicated to working hard and he developed his English language skills really well and worked hard on that,” Forde said.

Forde met with Arbabbahrami’s parents, who travelled to Canada from Iran after their son died.

“It was one of the hardest things but I was so glad as well that I could attest to what a lovely young man he was and thank them for him – for him in our lives.

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“I told them how much I appreciated the lovely person their son was and they could be so proud of him,” Forde said.

Forde said like other parents who have lost a child, Arbabbahrami’s mom and dad said the scholarship will be lasting legacy and a source of comfort.

“Some of those parents still attend the awards ceremonies and they are so grateful that their child’s legacy lives on.

“When we talk to parents about that loss and about keeping that person’s memory alive it is very comforting – that is exactly what they tell us – that they are so grateful we understand,” Forde said.

Read more: Iran plane crash: What has happened in the year since Flight PS752 was shot down?

The scholarship will be awarded for the first time this year. It’s intended to help English language learning students.

“So one of our newcomers to Canada who has come as an international student or is an immigrant who has come to settle in Canada.

“It’s a student who shows commitment to healthy living and fitness while also being someone who contributes to Western Canada’s community,” Forde said.

Forde said that on the anniversary of Arbabbahrami’s death, staff at Western Canada are remembering all the good things he brought to the school community.

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“Remembering the impact — his positive impact — that his short life had on our community. He touched a lot of us. We miss him.”

One of Arbabbahrami’s friends from high school said she’s remembering him as a dedicated student and athlete who was involved in many sports.

“When you came to Canada all alone — which is a difficult thing at such a young age to be far apart from your family — but he always worked hard towards his dreams,” said Yasmin Salehi on Friday.

“I remember him going to practice at five or six in the morning. There was no mom or dad to tell him to wake up or you have to do this.”

Read more: Iran plane crash: Canada rejects Tehran’s offer to compensate victims

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Salehi said the grief she and other friends are family feel is made that much worse as they struggle to find more answers behind the plane crash.

“The families, all they want is justice,” Salehi said. “They don’t want money; they just want answers.”