UPDATE (1/10/2020): Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne revised the number of Canadian citizens on the flight from 63 to 57.
UPDATE (1/8/2021): On Dec. 23, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters, with this statement: “We are designating January 8 as a national day of remembrance to continue to pay tribute to the victims of air disasters, both at home and abroad, and to acknowledge the profound loss of the victims’ families and loved ones. Together, we will always remember these tragedies, and we will keep those who were lost in our thoughts and in our hearts.”
There were dozens of Canadians among the 176 people who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed after takeoff near Tehran, Iran.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Wednesday afternoon, that 138 out of the 176 passengers who died in the fatal crash were supposed to land in Canada.
Friends and family in Canada were left to consult a passenger list the airline released to learn if their loved ones were among the dead. This list provides names and a birth year, but doesn’t list nationalities.
Pedram Mousavi, Mojgan Daneshmand and their daughters Daria and Dorina Mousavi
Payman Paseyan, a member of the Iranian-Canadian community in Edmonton, said his friend Pedram Mousavi, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, died along with his wife Mojgan Daneshmand and their daughters Daria Mousavi and Dorina Mousavi.
Mousavi and Daneshmand were engineering professors at the University of Alberta. Both were distinguished academics who had received their bachelors degrees from the University of Science & Technology in Iran and pursued further education in Canada.
In 2016, Daneshmand received an award for her contribution to the field of microwave engineering and for being a role model for women in engineering.
“They had two young girls with them. I can’t imagine what was going through their mind,” said Paseyan.
Hossein Saghlitooin, who did his PhD and post-doctorate studies under Mousavi, said he has known the family for about six years.
“Both of them were amazing, sweet people. They were so kind, irreplaceable,” he said.
Relatives said Fareed Arasteh, a PhD student in biology at Carleton University in Ottawa, was in Iran to marry his fiancee over the school holiday. Their wedding was just three days ago.
Golnaz Shaverdi, cousin of Arasteh’s wife, said the family is devastated by news of his death, especially his new bride, Maral, who remains in Iran.
“She’s devastated,” Shaverdi said. “He was such a nice guy. Everyone in the family really loved him. He was young and very kind. Everyone is, of course, devastated and they are also very worried for his wife, because she’s going through a very hard time now.”
Shaverdi spent a weekend with Arasteh before he left Canada and helped him pick out his wedding outfit.
“He was a very kind and very honest person. He was thinking about his fiancee, was glad that he was going to go and see her and that they were going to be married,” she said, breaking down into tears. “He talked about all their plans and their dreams about life.
“He was young. It’s not fair that it happened to him.”
Jude Uzonna, the Health Research Chair and an associate professor of immunology at the University of Manitoba, said he was devastated by the death of his friend and colleague Forough Khadem.
He met her at a conference in Iran where she was a translator. At the end of the conference Uzonna told her if she ever wanted to do a doctoral program she could come to his lab in Winnipeg. She took him up on the offer and graduated about three years ago from the University of Manitoba.
Khadem was a talented immunologist and an absolutely fantastic person to be around, Uzonna said.
“If you walk into a room and Forough is there, you will try to find out who is this lady. She is very affable. She connects with people,” he said. “It’s devastating.”
She went home to Iran in December to visit family. He texted her Monday to say he hoped that she was doing well. She responded that she was coming back to Winnipeg and hoped to see him soon.
“Now she’s gone,” he said.
Mohammad Sadeghi, Bahareh Hajesfandiari and their daughter Anisa Sadeghi
A Winnipeg family of three will be dearly missed, said their neighbour Behnam Soltani.
Mohammad Sadeghi, who went by Mahdi; his wife Bahareh Hajesfandiari and their daughter Anisa Sadeghi were a kind family, Soltani said.
“They were some of the nicest people I’ve met.”
Soltani said the family was in Iran to visit relatives over the holidays and he knew they were coming back on the flight that crashed.
The family were involved in the local Iranian community, Soltani said. Mahdi Sadeghi was a board member for the Iranian association and Hajesfandiari volunteered at a Persian school.
Soltani was at their home about two weeks before they left. He never expected they wouldn’t return.
“Everybody is in shock. It is so bad.”
Zahra Naghibi was a colleague of Jacqueline Stagner at the University of Windsor. Stagner said she was informed by the head of the lab where Naghibi worked that she was on the plane.
“She was very helpful and warm,” Stagner said.
Naghibi was a part of Windsor’s Turbulence and Energy Lab, where she worked on issues related to solar energy.
Stagner said when one of her students — just starting graduate work and new to Canada — needed help, Naghibi stepped in.
“Zahra was giving her advice, helping her out, letting her learn from her own work and what she’d discovered — helping her along, the next generation of researchers. She was very welcoming.”
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzaghi and their son Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi
The president of the Vancouver-based Civic Association of Iranian-Canadians, Kei Esmaeilpour, said a Vancouver family of three was killed in the crash.
Esmaeilpour said Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, an engineer, and Niloofar Razzaghi, who had just completed university training to become a teacher, lived in Vancouver with their 15-year-old son Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi.
Esmaeilpour said the family was vacationing in Iran.
He said he worked with Ebnoddin Hamidi and the two had served on the civic association together for at least a decade.
Ghanimat Azdahri and Milad Ghasemi Ariani
The University of Guelph identified two victims as Ghanimat Azdahri, a PhD student in the department of geography, environment and geomatics, and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, a PhD student in marketing and consumer studies.
The school said they were on the way back to Canada from visiting Iran.
University president Franco Vaccarino said his thoughts go out to the two students’ families.
The union representing Ontario’s high school teachers said employee Alina Tarbhai was among those killed.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said Tarbhai worked at the union’s provincial office in Toronto, but it offered no other details about what took her to Iran.
“She was respected and well-liked by all. Her passing represents a profound loss for all of us who worked with her,” the federation said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Parisa Eghbalian and Reera Esmaeilion
A dentistry in Aurora, Ont., confirmed that Parisa Eghbalian, a dentist, and her daughter Reera Esmaeilion died.
Eghbalian’s husband, Hamed Esmaeilion, is also a dentist at E&E Dentistry, but was not travelling with his wife and child.
Eghbalian first immigrated to Canada in 2010 and lived with her husband and daughter in Richmond Hill, Ont., said her biography on the dentist office’s website.
Shekoufeh Choupannejad, Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat
Shayesteh Majdnia, a past president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, said she was close friends with Shekoufeh Choupannejad, a gynecologist who died along with her two daughters Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat.
Majdnia said she had spoken to Choupannejad’s husband, who is still in Iran, for confirmation. She said Choupannejad also leaves behind a son who was not on the trip with the family.
“She was the kindest person I had ever met,” Majdnia said of Choupannejad.
She said Choupannejad was always there for community fundraisers, and often did her best to help take appointments with new immigrants who were overwhelmed and unable to find immediate medical help.
Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Amirhossien Ghasemi was on the plane.
Shirzadi said his friend was visiting family in Iran and was on his way back to Winnipeg. Ghasemi was a graduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of Manitoba.
“I saw him before he left the country,” said Shirzadi, who added that the two played games together.
“I can’t use past tense. I think he’s coming back. We play again. We talk again. It’s too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it.”
Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian
McMaster University released a statement that said it believed two of its students, Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian, were among the victims.
The school said Aghabali and Eshaghian were both PhD students in the faculty of engineering.
“McMaster is a tightly knit community and there will be many faculty, staff, colleagues, friends and fellow students who need our support and caring at this tragic time,” said president David Farrar.
The McMaster Iranian Student Association also paid tribute to the two.
“Mehdi and Iman were two kind souls who always celebrated Iranian traditions with our community,” the association said.
“It is devastating for the entire McMaster community to hear the painful passing of young students who left behind their families and motherland in hopes of a better future career.”
Zeynab Asadi Lari and her brother Mohammad Asadi Lari
The University of British Columbia said the names of two former students, Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammadhossein Asadi Lari, appeared on the flight manifest.
The school’s president, Santa Ono, said in a statement that he was “profoundly saddened.”
Zeynab Asadi Lari enrolled in 2016 in the bachelor of science program as a biology major, while her brother Mohammad Asadi Lari graduated in 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in cellular, anatomical and physiological sciences with honours standing, the statement said.
The siblings were both active members of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. In a statement, the organization said Mohammed “worked tirelessly to advocate for peace, inclusive STEM education, equitable and just global health.” He was the co-founder and managing director of a STEM fellowship.
“Beyond his incredible achievements, Mohammad had an ability to bring people together and inspire them to do and be better; ― better friends, family, professionals, academics, and citizens,” said a statement put out by UNESCO.
“On behalf of the UBC community, I wish to express my deepest condolences to their family, friends and loved ones,” Ono said.
He said the university will continue to ensure its Iranian students, faculty and staff have the support they need.
Masoumeh Ghavi, and her sister Mandieh Ghavi
Ghavi was a 30-year-old student who was was travelling back to Canada from Iran after visiting family, according to the CBC. She was working on her master’s degree in engineering at Dalhousie University. Ghavi was travelling with her younger sister Mandieh, who was 20.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji
Pourzarabi and Gorji were newlyweds returning from Iran where they had just had their wedding. They were both graduate students at the University of Alberta, studying computer science.
According to the National Post, a group of passengers on the plane had all travelled to Iran from Edmonton for the couple’s wedding.
Amir Forouzandeh and Amir Samani, who are both doing their master’s in computer science, said they were in the same program with the couple.
“Since Day 1 that I got to know them and hang out with them, it was a blast,” said Forouzandeh. “We got along so easily and pretty much within a week or two we just were hanging out every other day.”
Maya Zibaie, a Grade 10 student at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, was identified by the principal as one of the passengers who died.
In a letter to parents, Adam Marshall said Zibaie was new to Canada and excited about her future.
“Maya was kind, happy and well-liked by her peers,” he wrote.
“Maya will be sorely missed. Our entire school community is in shock and some of our students are understandably upset.”
Firouzeh Madani and Naser Pourshaban
A North Vancouver couple in their mid-50s, Firouzeh Madani and Naser Pourshaban were both award-winning physicians in Iran, said their niece Sara Hezarkhani. They were working towards getting their licences to practise in Canada.
``No words can describe their personalities, their true spirit, the passion that they had for the work,″ said Hezarkhani.
The couple was in Iran for about two weeks over the holidays to visit family, she said.
Pourshaban and Madani had been living in Canada for about seven years, said Hezarkhani. Their daughter is a university student in the Lower Mainland. She was not on board the flight.
“This is a big loss for our family and it will be very hard to (get) over,” said Hezarkhani.
Delaram Dadashnejad, a 26-year-old Langara College nutrition student in Vancouver, was returning from visiting family and friends in Iran, said her friend Sia Ahmadi.
Dadashnejad was originally booked for a round trip on Lufthansa Airlines, departing Vancouver on Dec. 17 and returning on Jan. 7, but her passport was stuck in Ottawa as part of her student visa renewal application, he said.
She got her passport back the morning of Dec. 18 and rebooked with Ukrainian International Airlines for a trip leaving that day and returning Jan. 8, said Ahmadi, who added he was supposed to pick her up from the airport.
“She was a very loving and compassionate person with a very kind heart, very loyal to her friends, and always tried to help people. Always.”
Dadashnejad planned to become a dietitian because she was passionate about health, said her friend, who added the young woman was an avid yogi and loved spending time outdoors in Vancouver.
He said she’s survived by her sister, who lives in Burnaby, B.C., and her mother and father who live in Tehran.
Langara College president Lane Trotter offered condolences in a statement.
“We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning.”
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani
Ghafouri-Azar and Mamani were graduates of Concordia University. According to the Montreal Gazette, the two met each other while working at Pratt & Whitney.
“They went to get married and to see their family in Iran,” Ghafoori-Aaar’s cousin Babook told the Montreal Gazette. “They were coming back to Canada to go back to work. It’s a very sad situation. There is a big mystery around this crash, and we are hoping to find out the cause, because for the families, this is very sudden.”
Nasim Rahmanifar, a master’s student in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, was nervous about her first winter in Edmonton.
“She was so excited to go back ... she planned to surprise her mom,” her friend Sina Esfandiarpour told Edmonton media at a news conference.
He said he received a text from Rahmanifar from the airport that she was on her way back and she wasn’t looking forward to the cold weather.
“She was afraid,” said Esfandiarpour. “She just came in May and she said, ‘They told me it was just freezing cold.’
“She is never going to see that.”
Ramin Fathian, Rahmanifar’s officemate, said she was really worried about the weather in Edmonton.
“She was asking me all the time, ‘What is the best jacket?’ he recalled. “We were saying it’s not that bad. You will get used to it.”
One of her supervisors, Prof. Hossein Rouhani, said Rahmanifar was a highly motivated, hard-working student who had recently earned a scholarship.
“She was an outstanding student,” said Rouhani, who added Rahmanifar planned to complete a PhD when she returned to Canada.
Hamidreza Setareh and Samira Bashiri
Hamidreza Setareh, 31, and Samira Bashiri, 29, fell in love as teenagers in Iran and had built a successful life together in Windsor, Ont., said friend Rachel Smith.
The husband and wife had been in Canada for about a year and Bashiri had just recently completed her citizenship exam. The couple _ who some friends nicknamed “Sami and Hami” — were in Iran for a month-long visit with their families, Smith said.
She said Setareh was working on his PhD in engineering, taught at the University of Windsor part time and had a dog-grooming business on the side. Bashiri worked in a lab trying to find cures for diseases.
Smith remembers them as generous and said they worked hard to raise funds for a church mission to help orphans in Kenya.
They would give without ever expecting anything in return, she said.
“They just want friendship and they just want to show their love to people,” she said. “They were blessed and they were blessings. It was really an honour knowing them.”
With files from HuffPost Canada.