A memorial was held in Winnipeg on Sunday to mark three years since the Iranian military shot down Flight PS752.
One-hundred-and-seventy-six people lost their lives onboard flight PS752, including nine Winnipeggers, when it was shot down by Iranian missiles.
The Justice Prevails ceremony took place at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). It included speeches, special presentations and performances.
“That day, not only 176 lives were taken away, but the lives of many others changed forever,” Arian Arianpour, President of the Iranian Community of Manitoba, said.
Arianpour said since then, the mission of the families of victims, Iranian communities all over the world, and the other nations who lost citizens in the tragedy has been to keep the memories of the passengers and crew alive.
“Too many of them were students and teachers returning to Canada. Many of them were from right around here,” said Isha Khan, CEO of CMHR.
“All of them had friends and family waiting for them to come home. All of them had communities of love around them. And so today, we hold up their families despite their pain.
“Now is the time for us to do more. Canada and Canadians can do more to help Iranians fighting against the oppressive regime and find peace and justice today,” Khan said.
Winnipeg’s mayor, Scott Gillingham, mentioned how he had the honour of attending a tree-planting ceremony at Scurfield Park.
“Trees were planted to memorialize those beloved Winnipeggers whose lives were stolen from us on that day,” he said.
“I look forward to the completion of that project, to provide a place of reflection and contemplation, a place that pays tribute to these victims.”
Gillingham said a tree is a very fitting way to honour someone as over the years it grows larger.
Manitoba’s premier, Heather Stefanson, mentioned that she wanted to be in attendance but she had prior commitments.
On her behalf, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Andrew Smith attended the ceremony and said a few words.
“The impact of this tragedy continues to touch Manitobans and Canadians in many, many ways, and our hearts go out to the families and the community members affected,” he said.
“Manitobans are with you. Canadians are with you. As we’ve seen recently, many people around the world are with you.”
But it is not just about keeping the memories alive — it is also about getting justice, Arianpour added.
“Seeking justice is a part of the ongoing revolution in Iran. Justice for the victims of downing Flight PS752.”
Arianpour says it is also about justice against the Islamic Republic regime.
“(Justice) for at least 517 (Iranian) protesters, including at least 70 children who have been murdered in the last 114 days and for thousands killed, tortured or imprisoned in the last 44 years,” he said.
“It is necessary to be the voice of people who are fighting with bare hands for their basic human rights, heroes who are sacrificing their lives for universal values.”
NDP leader Wab Kinew also attended the ceremony and he took a moment to highlight, pay tribute and to raise up the protesters in Iran.
“To me, it is very significant that what you are seeing on the streets of Iran, in cities like Tehran is being led by and large by women who are putting their lives on the line.”
Arianpour said the Iranian community is seeing an unprecedented level of support and noted how Canada has specifically become the leader in protecting the people of Iran.
“We are very appreciative for all their efforts, including the standing in solidarity with the families of flight PS752 victims.”
Additionally, Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont gave a speech in which he spoke about unity.
“You have members of all political parties represented here, members of all levels of government. And that’s a sign of our unity,” he said.
“Because you are not separate from us. We are all part of the same community together in grieving and in seeking justice.
“We grieve with you. We stand with you and we will seek justice with you.”
Other ceremonies were held across Canada and around the globe. Last month, Canada joined other countries to send the Flight PS752 case to the International Court of Justice.