When the names of the crash victims of Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 started trickling in, shock and grief swept through the hearts of families across Canada.
“It really takes a long time before you can actually absorb what happened and to realize that she won’t be coming back,” said Laura Shay, the daughter-in-law of Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, a dentist who worked in Halifax for several years before perishing in the crash.
All 176 people on board the jetliner were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says a report from Iran on the downing of the passenger jet by its military in January 2020 doesn’t explain why the tragedy happened.
Board chair Kathy Fox says the final report does not include a detailed explanation or evidence about the underlying factors that caused Iran’s military to fire two surface-to-air missiles at Flight 752.
Shay says the pandemic has exacerbated the grieving process she and her husband, Pedram Adibi, have been going through ever since.
“We were very isolated and unable to lean on the community that we were able to do when this initially happened.”
Despite that heart-wrenching challenge, Shay says she holds onto the memories of the woman she considered to be her second mother.
“Everyone who met her was immediately in love with her. She was very welcoming to me even though I don’t myself come from an Iranian background — that never made a difference to her and she was always very welcoming and loving towards me,” Shay said.
Five of the victims had ties to Nova Scotia: Faghihi; Masoumeh (Masi) Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, and her sister, Mandieh Ghavi; and Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi, financial management students at Saint Mary’s University.
Due to ongoing public health restrictions, the Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia and the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society didn’t hold vigils on the anniversary of the crash.
Faghihi was one of two victims who were part of the Dalhousie University community, alongside Ghavi.
A bursary was started in their honour by the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society, which raised more than $50,000.
The bursary will be awarded to an Iranian undergraduate student who is in need of financial support.
Shay expresses an immense amount of gratitude to all those who supported her and her husband following their loss.
“It was really encouraging that we got so much support from the people in our communities, both Iranian and not Iranian,” she said.
– With files from Global News’ Ashley Field and Elizabeth McSheffrey and The Canadian Press’s Jordan Press.