A look at some of the victims of the Iran plane crash who had roots in Canada
Dozens of people with ties to Canada were among the 176 who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed after takeoff near Tehran, Iran.
Here is a look at some of the victims with ties to Canada:
Masoumeh Ghavi and Mahdieh Ghavi
Ali Nafarieh, who teaches computer networking part time at Dalhousie and is president of the Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia, said he got to know 30-year-old Masoumeh Ghavi after she was admitted to the university’s internetworking program as a graduate student in September.
“She was full of energy,” he said. “You couldn’t believe how much energy someone can have.”
Impressed with her information technology background, Nafarieh hired her to work part time at his information technology firm, Halifax-based Hanatech Solutions.
“She changed the atmosphere. Always a smile, a beautiful smile.”
Nafarieh said Ghavi was on her way back to Halifax with her younger sister, Mahdieh, 20, who was expected to start medical school at Dalhousie later this year, he said.
“To me, it’s not just a disaster for the Iranian community …. It is also a national disaster for Canada.”
Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi
At Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, officials confirmed two students were listed on the jet’s passenger list.
Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were students in the master’s of finance program, said Colin Dodds, the program’s academic director and the university’s former president.
“I knew them very well,” said Dodds, who noted he had taught them in November and December and had stayed in touch with the pair during the holiday break.
The intense, 12-month program is aimed at helping students establish a career in the financial services sector.
“To celebrate the fact that it was the end of the first semester … they were going home to see parents and family,” Dodds said. “It’s a huge loss.”
Malek was in her early 40s and Mahmoodi was in her early 30s. Both spoke three languages.
Sharieh Faghihi, a Halifax dentist, was an “absolute joy,” said LJ Turnbull, regional manager for Dentalcorp, who confirmed she was on the plane.
“One of the kindest human beings,” said Turnbull. “She had a fantastic sense of humour and she was great with the patients … She was friends with everybody on the team.”
Turnbull, who spoke to Faghihi’s family after the crash, said the dentist taught part time at Dalhousie University. A brief profile on a Dalhousie website said Faghihi was married with two children.
Another colleague, dentist Ebrahim Kiani, said he first met Faghihi 25 years ago when she was head of the periodontics department at the Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran.
“She was very kind, very generous with her knowledge and very skilled,” Kiani said. “She was published in many journals … She was a good mentor for me.”
Montrealer Shahab Raana left behind a successful career in Iran to come to Canada for a better future, his close friend Hamidreza Zanedi said.
Zanedi, who first met Raana about 15 years ago in Iran, said his friend posted a selfie from the plane on an Iranian messaging app just before takeoff. He said his friends in Iran have also been in touch with Raana’s family members, who are in a “state of shock and sorrow.”
Zanedi said Raana had a good job in Iran as a quality control manager, and was taking courses in Montreal to improve his language skills and gain Canadian work experience.
He’d booked a trip back to Iran without telling his family because he wanted to surprise them, Zanedi said.
“I can’t even imagine his face without a smile on it,” he said.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh
Montreal’s Ecole de Technologie Superieure confirmed a married couple, Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh, were among the dead.
Both had studied for PhDs at the school, and Farzaneh was lecturing in construction engineering.
“All the ETS community offers its most sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Ms. Farzanah and Mr. Morattab, as well as to their teachers and colleagues,” the school wrote in a statement.
The school said their deaths were confirmed by Canada’s consular emergency assistance centre.
Shahrokh Eghbali Bazoft, Maryam Agha Miri and Shahzad Eghbali Bazoft
Shahrokh Eghbali Bazoft, his wife Maryam Agha Miri and their eight-year-old daughter Shahzad Eghbali Bazoft lived in Toronto and all died together, said Sharokh’s niece, Nadia Eghbali.
Eghbali said her uncle was a kind soul and a charismatic person.
“It was really hard not to like him because he was so kind. He had the best stories with funny voices and expressions that he would make,” said Eghbali, on the phone from Chicago. “He had everyone laughing including himself.”
“Maryam was a kind person, a devoted mother, wife and friend,” Eghbali said. “She always made us feel welcome, she made you feel loved.”
Eghbali said Shahzad had a creative mind.
“She had a great giggle and she just meant so much to her parents,” she said.
“They were a wonderful family and they’ll be truly missed.”
The University of Toronto confirmed student Mojtaba Abbasnezhad died in the plane crash.
A spokesman for the school said staff cross-referenced information contained on a passenger flight manifest with student records and confirmed with people who knew the students.
Abbasnezhad’s friend Pooya Pooland said the 26-year-old had “just started his PhD with many dreams.”
“It’s sad and shocking,” Pooland said. “I still can’t believe he’s not here among us.”
University president Meric Gertler said in a statement that the school was continuing to gather information and the crash left many in their community devastated.
“We are all heartbroken,” Gertler said.
Pedram Jadidi was in Iran to mark the first anniversary of his father’s death, his friend Mehran Eshaghi told a memorial service.
Jadidi had moved to Canada to study civil engineering at the University of Windsor shortly after his dad died and he went home to be with his family.
“Who would have thought this was going to be his last farewell to his mother?” Eshaghi asked. “Who would believe this beautiful family would lose a father and son in a year?”
Eshaghi said his friend was a strong student and more.
“He demonstrated to be an exceptional, enthusiastic researcher,” he said. “Outside of work space, Pedram was known by all of us as an approachable friend. He was a keen lover of movies, music and sport and was a skilled graphic designer.”
Jadidi’s PhD supervisor Shaohong Cheng said Jadidi was a promising young scientist.
“He brought all his passion, his expertise, to my group, to my lab,” Cheng said, recounting how Jadidi and a colleague had created a wind tunnel experiment.
“I still remember that moment when Pedram and his partner came to my office and proudly showed me the video of that test,” she said. “We were so excited. We cheered together for this milestone in my research group.”
Sahand Sadeghi, Sophie Emami, Alvand Sadeghi and Negar Borghei
Vahid Emami said his wife, Sahand Sadeghi, and five-year-old daughter, Sophie Emami, died in the crash, along with his brother-in-law Alvand Sadeghi and his wife, Negar Borghei.
Emami said his wife, 39, and daughter had been visiting family. He said he was feeling a bit worried about his family travelling back home to Toronto and before their flight spoke to his brother-in-law through WhatsApp.
He said Alvand told him there were no issues with their luggage and that Sophie was with them and they would see him soon.
He said Sophie was a “strong and happy girl” and known by all of her teachers.
Davi Rezende said he worked with Alvand Sadeghi, who was a web developer in Toronto.
“He was an amazing person, very cheerful and dedicated. I’m already missing him a lot.”
Rezende said he also knew Borghei, who studied in Montreal.
Borghei’s cousin Kimia Maleki, who is in Iran, said the family is in mourning and unsure if a funeral will be held. She said relatives and friends have been coming to Borghei’s parents home to drop off flowers and offer their condolences.
“We can’t believe it,” Maleki said.
She says Borghei married Sadeghi, a professional musician and industrial engineer, in 2018 and moved to Canada. Borghei was doing a master’s in human nutrition-dietetics credentialing at McGill University in Montreal.
Niloufar Sadr, 61, was returning to Toronto after a visit with family in Iran.
Sadr had lived in Montreal for many years but moved to Toronto a few years ago to be closer to her adult children and grandchildren, said Elahe Machouf, a longtime friend.
She described Sadr as someone who was full of life and had managed an art gallery in Montreal.
“She was very involved in the cultural field,” Machouf said. “Recently, she moved to Toronto because her children had moved there and she followed them, as many mothers do.”
Machouf said Sadr’s father was Ahmad Sayyed Javadi, a prominent Iranian lawyer, politician and political activist, who died in 2013.
Sadr’s ex-husband Reza Banisadre, a Montreal architect, said Sadr visited Iran every year.
“She was very joyous. She had lots of friends,” Banisadre said. “She loved life.”
Sadr leaves two daughters and a son, as well as three grandchildren.
Sheyda Shadkhoo, 41, was a chemist who worked as a control substance co-ordinator at SGS Corp. in Markham, Ont., a Swiss company that helps inspect, test and verify that products on the market meet various government standards.
Her husband, Hassan Shadkhoo, said his wife phoned him Wednesday, just before the plane took off, because she was afraid to fly. The conflict between Iran and the United States and the missile attacks had alarmed her.
He said he is gutted that he reassured his wife it would be OK. Twenty minutes after they got off the phone, the plane crashed.
“I wasn’t there,” he said, sobbing. “I should have been there with her.”
The couple was married for 10 years. Sheyda was in Iran to visit her mother.
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.”
Ali Mazaheri said his best friend Eshaghian would have turned 25 in a week.
He said Eshaghian had been seeing friends and family and was on the flight because it was the cheapest route back to Canada.
Mazaheri said the two last saw each other 11 days ago and went shopping, visited a teahouse and took photos.
“When we said goodbye he told me maybe I can’t see you again, so if I can’t, goodbye,” Mazaheri said.
Ali Pey, 48, was an entrepreneur and CEO of the tech startup Message Hopper in Kanata, Ont. He had two daughters and two stepdaughters.
Pey’s father in Iran had taken ill several weeks ago and Pey went to visit him, said Ayat Tadjalli, a close friend and work associate.
When his father seemed to recover, Pey returned to Canada to spend the holidays with his children. But he got a call from his family in Iran saying his father had once again been taken to hospital.
“Ali said, ‘This time I need to go and see my father, maybe for the last time.’ And he went to visit his father in hospital,” Tadjalli said.
He said he was in shock when he found out about the plane and saw his friend’s name on the list.
Pey’s partner, Marie, didn’t want to believe it at all, Tadjalli said. She had spoken with him just a few hours before he boarded his flight.
“She told me, ‘I’m waiting for someone to call me and tell me Ali wasn’t on that plane,’” Tadjalli said.
Tadjalli first met Pey when he started a group for Iranian parents to help foster the Persian language.
“He was really good with kids, he was really enthusiastic about playing with kids, teaching them.”
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.”
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.”
Smith said the couple learned English by watching the TV-sitcom “Friends” and teased him when they learned she’d never seen the show. Smith bought a “Friends” T-shirt online as a joke about a month before the crash, and it arrived in the mail the day afterwards.
She wore the shirt at a memorial at the University of Windsor.
Roja Azadian was supposed to travel to Canada for the first time with her husband, who has been studying at Algonquin College in Ottawa, but a mix-up over his ticket meant he could not get on the plane with her.
“He was thinking, I’m going to send her and then I’m going to be back on the next flight,” said Leila Hojabri, a friend of Azadian’s husband.
He called a friend in Ottawa, asking if he could pick Azadian up at the airport and ensure she was safe. Instead, her husband remains safe in Iran and she died aboard Ukraine International Airlines flight PS 752.
“She wasn’t sure if she should come to Canada and he was just building here and getting ready for her to join him and it’s just a really, really tragic story,” Hojabri said.
Fereshteh Maleki came to Ottawa as a skilled worker and, despite early challenges as a single mother in a new country, Maleki had finally started to succeed, said her friend Saeideh Shabani. She recently landed a promising new job and was making plans to renovate her home.
Her constant positivity and energetic nature was inspiring, Shabani said.
“She was a superwoman. She was a single mom. When she got her house, she did a lot of renovations in her house by herself,” Shabani said.
“When I think about how she was excited about everything here in Canada, I feel bad for her. Because for the first couple of years, when you are coming as a newcomer, it’s very hard … but after that it becomes better. And she passed all that. And when she was talking about her life, she told me four weeks ago, ‘Now it’s a good time in my life.’”
Maleki was in Iran for her daughter’s wedding. She was excited leading up to her journey and had happily texted photos of the ceremony to friends. The pictures showed the smiling faces of Maleki and her daughter.
Shabani said Maleki and her daughter Deniz were inseparable and now her daughter is heartbroken.
Farhad Niknam, 44, moved to Winnipeg five years ago with his wife and daughter after running a dental practice in Iran for 15 years, said Sanaz Valadi, his friend of 20 years.
About three years ago, after having a son, the family moved to Toronto. Niknam took his dental equivalency exam and began to train other foreign dentists.
He had recently settled the family in a new condominium and registered to be a dentist in Toronto.
Valadi said they spoke on the phone only three days ago and Niknam was excited to come back to Canada to start a new phase of his career. Instead, Valadi spent the hours after the crash with Niknam’s grieving wife.
Niknam and his wife, Mojgan, had been married for 15 years. Valadi said she will never forget how much they glowed as they danced at their wedding.
Now Mojgan is alone with her daughter Yana, 7, and son Yuna, 3.
Niknam’s family flew back to Iran on Wednesday to have DNA tests done so they can retrieve his body.
Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan
The director of Global Water Futures said they lost a rising star in the crash.
Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan, who was working on her PhD at the University of Waterloo, was confirmed dead in the crash by the university. John Pomeroy, director of Global Water Futures, said he saw Foroutan’s student ID in photos of the crash site. He was then able to confirm she had gone to Iran to visit family.
“She’s a remarkable individual,” he said, noting he met her when she was getting her master’s degree at the University of Calgary.
Foroutan was studying remote sensing and climate change as part of the Global Water Future’s Transformative Sensor Technologies and Smart Watersheds Project at the University of Waterloo.
Her supervisor, Prof. Claude Duguay, said in a statement that “Mari was a kind-hearted, passionate and brilliant researcher who cared deeply about environmental issues. She had a bright future ahead of her. She will be truly missed.”
Amir Ovaysi, Asal Ovaysi and Sara Hamzeei
Amir Ovaysi, 42, is remembered as a proud family man who would often show his colleagues videos and photos of his six-year-old daughter, Asal, and his wife, Sara Hamzeei, 34.
His manager, Troy Futher, says the three were in Iran to visit Ovaysi’s aging parents. Ovaysi left in mid-December, joining his wife and daughter, who had arrived in November. It was their first visit home since they came to Canada about two years ago.
Futher said he hired Ovaysi at his heating, ventilation and air- conditioning company, Smith Energy Inc., in June. Ovaysi had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He worked out of the company’s Mississauga, Ont., office, but had a house in Newmarket, Ont.
“He was genuine. He was a super person — a brilliant mind, an astute student,” said Futher, who added it was heartbreaking to have to inform staff that Ovaysi and his family were on board the flight.
“A lot of the employees took it extremely hard,” he said. “It’s been a sombre day, a very difficult day.”
Hadis Hayatdavoudi saw beauty in things that others take for granted.
The PhD student at Western University in London, Ont., studied the effects of hydrogen on copper at the Electrochemistry and Corrosion Science Centre. Its goal is to examine how corrosion affects nuclear waste containers.
As a byproduct of Hayatdavoudi’s research, the copper she pumped with hydrogen was melted down into tiny balls, which would normally be thrown away, her supervisor said.
“She saw beauty in these little tiny beads of copper, and she was saving them because she thought that she could maybe employ them in making jewelry or something like that. I have a little box of these things that were saved from her work,” Jamie Noel said, shaking the box so the beads clattered together.
Noel said Hayatdavoudi had spent a month in Iran with her family — her first time back home since she moved to Canada on her own in September 2018. He said she was on the flight so she could be back in Canada in time to act as a teaching assistant for one of his courses.
“She found Canadians were very welcoming to her, coming from so far away, all by herself, a single woman in a strange country, with a different language,” said Noel, who noted that she quickly found community with other Persian students in his lab.
Parinaz Ghaderpanah and Iman Ghaderpanah
Parinaz Ghaderpanah was a branch manager at a Toronto RBC.
The bank confirmed to employees that she and her husband, Iman Ghaderpanah, were on the doomed flight. He had also worked at the bank for a time.
In a note to bank staff, she was remembered as a strong and dedicated leader.
“She embodied the best of RBC and we were incredibly lucky to have known and worked with her for the past nine years,” the note read.
“Her presence on the ship will be sadly missed, and she will be missed dearly by her branch, the Toronto northeast market and all of the lives she touched in RBC.”
Neda Sadighi, an optometrist with a new practice north of Toronto, was among those killed, her colleagues confirmed.
Joe Belden, who worked alongside Sadighi at Optical Eyeworks in Richmond Hill, Ont., said office staff were aware of Sadaghi’s travels to Iran and had learned of her death directly from her family members.
Belden said clinic staff were struggling to come to terms with the death of their only doctor, who he described as an amazing person.
“She was really helpful to disadvantaged people,” Belden said. “She treated everybody with respect no matter their background. She was kind all the way around.”
Alma Oladi was a PhD student studying mathematics at the University of Ottawa. Students and staff who knew her turned her desk into a makeshift memorial on Wednesday, with white flowers and cards placed next to a picture of her signature smile.
“She always had this smile on her face,” said Mohsen Zandimoghadam, who was a friend of Oladi.
“She was a nice and kind girl. She always wanted to explore places and discover new things in life and new places … she had so many plans for her life in Canada.”
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.
Azdahri worked with an organization called the ICCA Consortium, which helps Indigenous communities preserve land that supports traditional lifestyles. In a tribute on its website, the consortium called Azdahri “a true force of nature.”
Azdahri worked with many of Iran’s nomadic tribes, the tribute said, documenting their traditional territories and world views.
“She was always smiling, wherever she went, and generously shared her experience, knowledge and powerful energy. A strong activist and advocate for the global indigenous peoples movement, this is not only a loss for our ICCA Consortium family but also for many communities, organizations and movements worldwide.”
University president Franco Vaccarino said his thoughts go out to the two students’ families.
Mohammad Hossein Asadi Lari and Zeynab Asadi Lari
Parsa Shani was looking forward to meeting his friends Mohammad Hossein Asadi Lari, 23, and Zeynab Asadi Lari, 21.
The siblings were returning to Toronto after spending Christmas with their family in Iran, said Shani, who had known them for about six years.
“They frequently travel solo. It just so happens that this time the two of them were on the same flight,” he said.
The brother and sister were students at the University of Toronto, and had moved from Vancouver about 1 1/2 years ago.
Shani said he found out about their deaths through a flood of text messages and posts.
He described Mohammad as a “role model, an inspiration” and “a friend in a time of need.”
“In his 23 years Mohammad achieved more than most people do in their lives,” Shani said. “I really believe that.”
Mohammad was enrolled in the prestigious MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto and was partway through his third year, said Nishila Mehta, a fellow medical student.
The pair met through the school’s medical society, a student government body in the medical program.
“Most people describe him as genuinely compassionate, caring and very uplifting,” Mehta said. “He would make you believe in yourself even if you didn’t. Everyone would immediately feel at ease around him.”
Fiona Rawle, a biology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, said Zeynab stood out in a class of 1,000 students.
“She was exceptionally sharp, a hard worker, fiercely competitive with herself, but also incredibly collaborative with everyone else,” Rawle said.
“She was a fierce advocate for mental health and decreasing the stigma for mental health.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani
Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani, who went by Amir Ghorbani, was a student in the University of Manitoba’s program for international students.
During a vigil at the university his close friend Ayda Mohammadian said Ghorbani wanted to be a doctor. Ghorbani studied very hard but was also a lot of fun, his friend said. Ghorbani’s goal was always to become successful so he could take care of his parents back in Iran, she added.
“We never knew that on the way back here he was going to die, and we are the ones who lost him,” she said holding back tears.
Before Ghorbani went back to Iran in December, Mohammadian told her friend she was worried for him. Ghorbani told her that he would return in 20 days and they could get back to planning their futures.
“But he didn’t come back,” she said.
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.”
Another good friend, Shahin Ahmadi, said Ghasemi always wanted to help people and expressed compassion to everyone he encountered. They spoke an hour before the flight and Ghasemi told Ahmadi he was happy to return home and get back to his studies.
“We told each other that we cannot wait to see each other again.”
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.
Farzaneh Naderi and Noojan Sadr
Farzaneh Naderi was an amazing mother and wife and a great cook, said her niece Negysa Kalar. Naderi’s 11-year-old son Noojan Sadr was charismatic and caring beyond his years.
“She loved her family so much and would do anything for us,” Kalar said of Naderi. “She was so full of life and selfless.”
The family moved to Winnipeg about 15 years ago. Naderi volunteered for three years before being permanently employed as a tutor for children with autism at St. Amant, a not-for-profit foundation in Manitoba.
A statement from St. Amant said Naderi had a big heart and genuinely cared about her colleagues, the children and their families.
Noojan loved to play video games and soccer. He adored his family, his cousin said.
“My little cousin was the sweetest boy and so humble.”
The mother and son were on their way home to Winnipeg after visiting family in Iran. Kalar has started the Sadr Family Memorial Fund to support her uncle, Abolfazl Sadr, who lost his son and wife.
Mohammad Sadeghi, Bahareh Hajesfandiari and 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, 10-year-old 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 was 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.
They “were experienced civil engineers in Iran and they worked hard to transfer their credentials to their new country,” friend Mojtaba Montazeri said in an email.
Montazeri said his son and Anisa played together and were in the same Persian language program.
Arshia Arbabbahrami, 19, was a Grade 12 student at Calgary’s Western Canada High School.
The school’s principal, Carma Cornea, said Arbabbahrami was involved in track and field and the school’s swimming and diving team.
“He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to,” Cornea said in a statement.
“Arshia was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran.”
Amir Hossein Saeedinia was a PhD student in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Alberta. He was studying the composition of ceramic-metal materials that could be used to make better coatings for the oil and gas industry.
His death was confirmed by the university Thursday.
James Hogan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, said Saeedinia had a big smile and was a natural leader.
“He had a strong mind for science,” said Hogan, Saeedinia’s co-supervisor. “I would get him to help me when other students would come into the group because I trusted his opinion that much.”
Kasra Saati travelled to Iran over the holidays for a reunion with his wife and two children, said friend Nina Saeidpour.
“He was such a smart, social person and of course he was a family guy.”
Saeidpour said Saati boarded the plane to return to Calgary, while his wife, Mehsam, infant daughter and son, who is 10 or 11, stayed behind. Mehsam was in Iran during her maternity leave so that her family could help out with the new baby, Saeidpour said.
She said friends frantically went through the flight manifest when they got word of the crash. Saati’s name was on it, but not the rest of his family. Eventually Saeidpour was able to connect with Mehsam, who was in shock and surrounded by friends and family.
“It’s just so sad that people come here to have a better life for themselves and their families, and then something like this happens,” said Saeidpour. “Suddenly, they leave behind a beautiful young family.”
Angela Murray, a spokeswoman for Viking Air Ltd. said Saati worked at the company’s aircraft assembly facility from early 2018 until December 2019. His LinkedIn profile says he was a quality engineer.
“His loss is deeply felt by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him,” said Murray.
Pedram Mousavi, Mojgan Daneshmand, Daria Mousavi 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, also an engineering professor, and their daughters Daria Mousavi and Dorina Mousavi.
“They had two young girls with them. I can’t imagine what was going through their mind,” said Paseyan.
Hossein Saghlatoon, who did his PhD and post-doctorate studies under Mousavi, said he has known the family for about six years.
“I was crying my eyes out,” he said. “It’s not just that I was working with them or that he was my boss. He was a friend. He was like a father to me.”
Saghlatoon said it took him several hours to confirm the information before he told his colleagues one by one.
“Both of them were amazing, sweet people. They were so kind, irreplaceable,” he said.
Sina Ghaemi, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, knew Mousavi for about six years. Their offices were next door to each other.
“He was a really fun person and always laughing,” Ghaemi said. “He was a very happy person.”
Ghaemi said Mousavi worked on antennas and had published many highly cited papers in the field.
“He was very prolific.”
Ghaemi said it was a sombre morning in the department.
“Everyone is in shock. Things are quiet and people look sad. The whole faculty’s kind of in shock.”
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.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji
Students from the University of Alberta said their friends, Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji, were returning to Edmonton after getting married in Iran a week earlier.
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.
“I wasn’t able to go back, but they had their wedding on Jan. 1 and they were planning to come back on the 8th, and, of course, we all know what happened,” said Forouzandeh.
He said they were the kindest people he knew.
“Since Day 1 that I got to know them and hang out with them, it was a blast,” he said. “We got along so easily and pretty much within a week or two we just were hanging out every other day.”
Both Samani and Forouzandeh said the two were looking forward to the wedding when they left.
“They were super excited,” said Forouzandeh. “A lot of people came from all over the world to be at their wedding.”
Samani added that he can’t believe what happened.
“I’m a big denier right now,” he said, noting he kept checking his phone to see if Arash was online.
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.
Mehran Abtahi and Mehrdad Taheran were from the same city in Iran.
Taheran found out through a mutual friend that Abtahi was on the doomed Ukranian flight.
“We wished to meet each other this year, but it will never happen,” Taheran said.
Abtahi, 37, had gone to Iran to meet his wife over Christmas.
The two men had finished their PhDs in June 2018 and were looking for jobs, Taheran said.
“Several months ago he told me that he found a decent job in Vancouver and moved to start a new chapter in his life,” he said. “Unfortunately it was the shortest, saddest and last chapter.”
In a statement, the University of British Columbia said Abtahi had joined the institution last year as a post-doctoral research fellow in the department of civil engineering.
Taheran described Abtahi as “kind, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, broad-minded and hardworking.”
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzaghi and Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi
The president of the Vancouver-based Civic Association of Iranian-Canadians, Kei Esmaeilpour, said a family of three from Coquitlam, B.C., 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 the Metro Vancouver city 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.
Jessi Eiriksson, 15, said through tears that Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi was one of her best friends. Both were in Grade 10 at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
“He was the most caring person I have ever met. He was always there for me and he would be there for anybody whenever they needed someone to talk to,” she sobbed.
“It’s the hardest thing losing him.”
He loved making music and wanted to become a producer when he was older, she said.
She said he also enjoyed playing soccer for fun and they would often kick a ball around together.
“He was shy except he’s just such a loving person that everyone loves Kamyar. He makes everyone happy just with his smile and a joke.”
The University of British Columbia said Razzaghi graduated with a bachelor of science in math in 2010 and a bachelor of education in 2018.
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.”
Nasim Hadadi said she first met Roja Omidbakhsh, 23, last September. The young women, along with another friend, shared student residences at the University of Victoria.
Omidbakhsh went to Iran to be with her family during Christmas, Hadadi said.
Hadadi said her roommate was booked on the Ukrainian Airlines flight from Tehran and was supposed to return to Victoria on Wednesday.
Omidbakhsh described Hadadi as being “really cool.”
“She always tried to help us, and comforted her friends when they were going through hard times.”
The University of Victoria said Omidbakhsh was registered in the Gustavson School of Business and was in Prof. Mark Colgate’s commerce class for her first term.
“Roja was very positive and had a keen interest in marketing. She was on the pathway to complete a bachelor of commerce,” Colgate said in a statement released by the school.
“We’re heartbroken that this happened and our condolences go to her family and classmates.”
Fatemah Pasavand and Ayeshe Pourghaderi
Friends of a man who runs a bakery in North Vancouver say the crash left his small family shattered.
Amir Pasavand who owns Amir Bakery in North Vancouver lost his daughter, 17-year-old Fatemah Pasavand, and his 36-year-old wife, Ayeshe Pourghaderi, a family friend confirmed.
“The family supplied bread to my store,” said Reza Varasteh, owner of Vanak Market and Deli, which is across the street from Amir Bakery.
The mother and daughter went to Iran about a month ago on vacation, he said, adding that he has known the family for about five years.
He described the family as hardworking and Pourghaderi as pleasant.
“She was always laughing, really kind.”
Varasteh said Amir Pasavand left for Tehran on Wednesday to be with his family.
Fatemah Pasavand was a student at Carson Graham Secondary School in North Vancouver and was going to turn 18 this month, he said.
“The dad was wishing he was in the airplane instead of them,” he said. “He had a hard time realizing he lost his family … He had prepared a special meal that his daughter had asked for when she came back.”
Mohammad (Daniel) Saket and Fatemah (Faye) Kazerani
Mohammad (Daniel) Saket, an engineer at North-Vancouver-based real-estate developer Denna Homes, and his wife Fatemah (Faye) Kazerani died in the crash, the company confirmed.
“This has been a very trying day for the Denna Homes family. As a small office of 10 people, Daniel’s passing is a significant loss to all of us. Daniel was a colleague, a friend and family. Both he and Faye will be sadly missed,” Dan Thomson, vice-president of marketing, said in a statement.
“Daniel and Faye both had a zest for life that lit up every room they entered.”
Farzad Taheri said he saw his cousins, who went by the English names Daniel and Faye, just before Christmas.
“We were the only family they had in Canada,” Taheri said.
Taheri described Saket as “extremely kind, generous, humble genius.”
His death is a “big loss to humanity,” he said.
“Faye was the most positive, also extremely kind and generous woman.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first reported Jan. 11, 2020
The Canadian Press
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