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

New seniors’ housing complex proposed for Port Alberni

Developers targeting more active seniors, offering ‘age in place’ model

Upgrade on the books for contentious intersection in Port Alberni

Province promises survey, changes at Beaver Creek and River Roads in 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Family Farm Day in the Alberni Valley goes virtual

Take part in a scavenger hunt for a chance to win a gift basket

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Most Read