A look at some of the Canadians who died in Iran plane crash
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:
All-Access Digital Subscription
$1.50 for 150 days*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/01/2020 (946 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There were dozens of Canadians among the 176 people who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed after takeoff near Tehran, Iran.
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.
Here is a look at some of the victims from Canada:
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 prof, 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.”
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 Kamyar 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.”
Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammadhossein 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 Mohammadhossein Asadi Lari graduated in 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in cellular, anatomical and physiological sciences with honours standing, the statement said.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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 Pourghadheri as pleasant.
“She was always laughing, really kind.”
Varasteh said Amir Pasavand left for Tehran Wednesday morning to be with his family.
Fatemah Pasavand is 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,” said Dan Thomson, vice-president of marketing, in a statement.
“Daniel and Faye both had a zest for life that lit up every room they entered.”
A celebration of life will be held for the couple on Saturday, the statement said.
Farzad Taheri said he saw his cousins, who go 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. 8, 2020
Note to readers: This is a corrected list. An earlier list misspelled Hossein Saghlatoon’s last name, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi’s first name, and Ayeshe Pourghaderi’s last name.