VIDEO: Sadness, silence grip Canada’s universities in honour of Iran plane crash victims

Faculty, staff and students from more than a dozen Canadian post-secondary schools were victims

A sombre silence fell across Canadian university campuses Wednesday as the institutions honoured the 176 lives lost in a plane crash in Iran last week.

Many students, faculty and researchers from more than a dozen Canadian universities were among those who died when the Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down by the Iranian military.

Several hundred mourners gathered at the University of Waterloo in Ontario to pay tribute to two PhD students — Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan, who was in the faculty of environment, Mansour Esfahani, of the faculty of engineering — and three alumni.

“We have lost so much life and love,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, the university’s president.

Alireza Mohamadizadeh, a PhD engineering student, went to middle school with Esfahani in Iran as 11-year-olds in 2002. He described Esfahani as an intelligent man who as a teen ranked 200 among 600,000 applicants in the nation’s university entrance exams.

After completing his master’s degree at Sharif University of Technology, one of Iran’s top schools, Esfahani got into the prestigious PhD engineering program at the University of Waterloo.

The pair had lost touch for years before they ran into each other at a bus stop in Waterloo, he said.

“It was like there was never distance between us for the past few years,” Mohamadizadeh said. ”He remembered all the teachers and their catchprhasese from middle school that I could not stop myself laughing.”

Esfahani had “so many sweet plans for his love life,” he said, and left Canada on Dec. 10 to prepare for his wedding over the holidays. After the wedding, his wife remained in Iran.

“She was about to join him in Feburary and start a new life here in Canada with Mansour. He never said goodbye.”

In Edmonton, a handful of students gathered in a room at the University of Alberta set aside for grief counselling. The school lost 10 people in the crash, including two professors and a number of graduate students.

Asal Andarzipour, president of the university’s Iranian Students Association, said she wanted to be with others who are grieving.

“Silence is helpful,” she said outside the room. “It means a lot to us to hear that all of the universities across Canada are uniting to take this moment.”

Students at the University of Toronto fell silent at 1 p.m. to remember eight people with ties to the school, including six students.

About 100 students stood to mark the moment in one first-year computer science class as they stared at the names of the eight crash victims projected on a screen at the front of the room.

The school also announced Wednesday the creation of a scholarship fund for international students from Iran, or students of any background pursuing Iranian studies.

RELATED: ‘All Canadians stand with you:’ Trudeau says Iran plane crash families will get answers

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lights shine on Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium

$1.1-million lighting project will extend baseball season, says City of Nanaimo

Mural artists announced for Nanaimo’s inaugural Hub City Walls festival

Local artists Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen to paint downtown walls

Crews put out fire in basement of Nanaimo’s Bastion

Front Street closed at Bastion Street

Province announces plans for permanent supportive housing on Terminal and three other sites

B.C. ministry and City of Nanaimo partnering on 190 supportive housing units

City of Nanaimo looking into making council’s voting records more accessible

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong says a lot of citizens have asked for additional transparency measure

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Province providing financing to help get apartments built in Nanaimo’s Wellington area

120 apartments on Ledgerwood Road intended to be affordable for ‘middle-income’ households

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Most Read