Editor’s note: Global News previously reported, based on information from government officials, that 63 Canadians were killed in the Jan. 8 Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran. On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that the number of crash victims who are Canadian citizens is now believed to be 57 due to additional information received. This story has been revised to reflect the latest figure provided by the Canadian government.
A passenger plane crash in Iran claimed 176 lives on Wednesday — and at least 57 of them were Canadian. Others may have lived in Canada for work or school.
Ukrainian aviation authorities initially pointed to engine failure as the cause but later backtracked, saying the investigation was ongoing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Canada has received intelligence indicating an Iranian missile shot down the Ukrainian jet.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa, adding that it might have been accidental.
“The news will undoubtedly come as a further shock to the families who are already grieving in the face of this unspeakable tragedy.”
Here is what we know so far about the victims who lived in Canada.
The ICCA Consortium confirmed Ghanimat Azhdari was on the plane when it crashed. Azhdari started her PhD at the University of Guelph this past September.
“We are in utter disbelief and heartbroken at the sudden loss of such a beautiful young life — a true force of nature,” officials from the ICCA Consortium said in a statement on their website.
“She was a dear friend to all of us and will be deeply missed.”
The statement says she was a geographic information specialist and had recently represented the consortium in a “series of UN Convention on Biological Diversity meetings in Montreal.”
“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,” the statement reads.
North Toronto resident Suzan Golbabapour has been identified as one of those killed in the Iran plane crash.
Golbabapour worked as a real estate agent with Remax’s Richmond Hill office for roughly a year, according to a colleague.
Her social media accounts show that she also worked as a personal fitness trainer.
“She was kind, such a real human,” a friend told Global News.
Ayeshe Pourghaderi and Fatemah Pasavand
North Vancouver resident Ayeshe Pourghaderi and her 17-year-old daughter Fatemah Pasavand were also confirmed by a local business owner to be on the plane. Amir Pasavand, the father and husband, who owns Amir Bakery, was not on the plane.
“When I woke up today and I saw the names, I was shocked,” said Rosewood Photography owner Arash Azrahimi, who identified the two as former clients of his.
“I’m still in shock … it’s unbelievable they’re not here anymore.”
Azrahimi, who often takes official photos for citizenship and passports, said he saw Pourghaderi “every 10, 15 days” while he only met Pasavand “two or three times.”
Milad Ghasemi Ariani
A second University of Guelph student has also been identified as a passenger on the plane by the school. Milad Ghasemi Ariani was in a marketing and consumer studies program.
Arshia Arbabbahrami, a Grade 12 high school student from Calgary, was identified as a passenger on the flight.
“Arshia was highly involved in athletic activities, such as the track and field and swim and dive team,” said Carma Cornea, principal of Western Canada High School.
“Arshia was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran. He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to. Our collective thoughts are with Arshia’s family and friends, both in Iran as well as in Canada.”
Cornea said the school is grieving together through the tragedy that has “deeply impacted our community,” and it has set up a memorial table for condolence notes to be left for Arbabbahrami’s family.
Kasra Saati, a former Viking Air employee in Calgary, is believed to have also died in the crash, according to the company.
Viking said he was an engineer and a “valued member” of the quality team at the Calgary aircraft assembly facility from early 2018 until December 2019.
“His loss is deeply felt by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him, and we share our sincere condolences with the Saati family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” a statement read.
Saharnaz Haghjoo and Elsa Jadidi
Saharnaz Haghjoo and her eight-year-old daughter Elsa Jadidi were on board the flight.
“We are devastated about the loss,” said Firoozeh Radjai, an executive at the YWCA. “She was truly an incredible part of the team.”
Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi and Sajedeh Saraeian
Western University has confirmed that four of its students were among the victims of the plane crash: Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi and Sajedeh Saraeian.
“My heart breaks for the families, friends, and loved ones of all those lost in this horrible tragedy, including three current Western graduate students, and one incoming graduate student,” London Mayor Ed Holder said in a statement.
Fellow Iranian and chemistry PhD student Rose Kasi said when they found out that Hayatdavoudi and the other students had been killed, they could hardly believe it.
Kasi was at the memorial held in Western’s International and Graduate Affairs building to honour the students who were killed.
“I feel like we are important to the community, to the university, to Canada, that they care about us, and it really means a lot to us,” said Kasi.
Shekoufeh Choupannejad and Saba and Sara Saadat
Shekoufeh Choupannejad was a doctor working as an obstetrician and gynecologist at Northgate Medical Clinic in Edmonton. Born in 1963, she was in her late 50s and was on the plane with her two daughters, Saba and Sara Saadat. Both daughters were born in Esfahan, Iran but lived in Edmonton.
Saba, born in 1998, wanted to be a doctor. She studied at the University of Alberta, earning a Bachelor of Science before applying to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. She didn’t live to find out if she would be accepted.
Sara, born in 1996, attended the U of A as well and earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Friends said she had just gotten into a clinical psychology program at Alliant University in San Diego, California.
“I cannot believe we have lost that many people…I think every Iranian in the community has the same feeling,” said Shayesteh Majdnia, who said she was Choupannejad’s best friend.
“She was such a good friend. She was always the first one, when anything happened within the community, to come contribute, help, be there for us,” Majdnia said, adding Choupannejad would use her job as a physician to help new residents.
“Any newcomer that would come from Iran, I would call her and I’ll ask for her to help. She would jump in, get them an appointment, ask me to send them there… I am sure she will be missed by lots of Persian people in the community.”
Friends said after moving to Edmonton seven-and-a-half years ago, the family made trips back home almost every year. But Majdnia told Global News the doctor’s son and husband were not on the plane for this trip.
Mahdieh Ghassemi, Arsan Niazi and Arnica Niazi
Toronto architect Mahdieh Ghassemi was killed in the crash along with her son, Arsan, 11, and eight-year-old daughter Arnica.
Negar Khalili, a close friend of Ghassemi, said the two first met when they studied architecture at university in Tehran in 1999 before immigrating to Canada.
“Mahdieh was very hard-working. She was also a mother of two kids,” Khalili told Global News. “She was very busy but dedicated to her kids. She was a really great mom.”
Ghassemi worked for N Architecture Inc. in Richmond Hill, which designs residential, industrial and commercial properties.
Khalili confirmed that Ghassemi’s husband Hamid was not on the flight.
“She was very kind. She has achieved whatever she wanted,” Khalili said.
Bahareh Karami was a technologist in the capital planning and delivery branch of environmental services with York Region. She was a graduate of the University of Tehran with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and received a master’s degree in science from North Carolina State University.
“Bahareh’s colleagues speak very highly of her,” said York Region chief administrative officer Bruce Macgregor. “She is being remembered for her love of family, a dedicated and strong work ethic, and great sense of enthusiasm.”
Flags at York Region faculties are lowered to half-mast until her funeral in Tehran is held.
Alireza (Ali) Pey
Ottawa resident and tech CEO Alireza Pey was also among the passengers killed on Wednesday.
Maryam Kamkar and Azadeh Ashoori, friends of Pey’s, confirmed the 47-year-old father of two was on board the plane.
Pey, a computer engineer and programmer, was the founder and CEO of Message Hopper, based in Ottawa, and he also started a community group for parents in the Iranian community, the two friends told Global News.
“He was generous, caring and he was a beacon in the community,” Kamkar said. “His door is always open to guests and he planned these play dates and play groups for Persian kids, so families can come together and give this sense of belonging to both cultures, Iranian and Canadian culture, at the same time to our kids.”
Pey was also a father-figure to his partner’s two daughters, the friends said.
When she first heard the news of the crash, Kamkar didn’t think she knew anyone on board. When the names began to be released, she was “speechless,” she said.
“It was tragic. It was, it was unbelievable,” she said. “I’m still in denial.”
“It was a big shock for all of us,” Ashoori said tearfully. “I still feel that he’s around me and he is looking at me. I don’t know why, but he was like an older brother for me here in Ottawa. And it is so difficult to believe that he is gone forever.”
David Gourlay, founder of the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, paid tribute to Pey on Twitter.
“Ali Pey was a great person – very community-minded, an entrepreneur and a dedicated family man,” Gourlay wrote. “I was lucky to have known him and spent time in his home talking about our community.”
Arad Zarei, 18, was in his final semester of studies at Richmond Green Secondary School in Richmond Hill. He travelled to the city of Shiraz to visit his mother, who he had not seen since summer 2018, for the Christmas holidays.
“He was the apple of my eye and his energetic demeanour and caring personality left a lasting impression on his classmates and many friends,” Zarei’s father, Mehrzad Zarei, said in a statement.
“His loss will undoubtedly leave a gaping hole in the lives of the many he touched.”
An Iranian international student who was studying at Langara College, Delaram Dadashnejad, was also identified as a victim in the crash.
Her ID, which stated she was from B.C., was found at the crash site, according to Iranian state media.
In a statement, the college’s president and CEO Lane Trotter said Dadashnejad was taking university transfer classes and was flying back to Vancouver after visiting family in Tehran.
“The loss of one of our students is one that impacts our entire community,” Trotter said. “We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident.”
Masoumeh and Mandieh Ghavi
Nova Scotia resident Masoumeh Ghavi was studying engineering at Dalhousie University. She was travelling back to Canada alongside her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, who was also killed, according to the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society.
The pair was in Iran to visit family over the holidays.
Sadra Kord-Jamshidi, the president of Dalhousie’s Iranian Student Society, said Mandieh Ghavi had recently been accepted to study at Dalhousie and Masoumeh Ghavi was accompanying her sister back to Canada for the new semester.
Sadaf Hajiaghavand, who was born in 1992, lived in Toronto. Her presence on the flight was confirmed by the travel agency through which she booked her trip, Marouf Travel.
Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi
Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were also confirmed to be on the plane.
Both were attending St. Mary’s University as masters students in financial management. The university confirmed Wednesday that Malek and Mahmoodi were listed on the flight’s manifest.
“They were really friendly,” said Ladan Yahyaeian, a friend of Malek and Mahmoodi since Sept. 2019.
“We were planning for a future, what to do after graduating and I remember the last time I saw them we were all having dinner together.”
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloufar Khamsi Razzaghi and Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi
Three members of a B.C. family were confirmed to be among those killed in the Tehran plane crash.
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi and Niloufar Razzaghi, a husband and wife who lived in Vancouver with their teenage son, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, were killed on their way home after a holiday, according to family friends.
Kei Esmaeilpour, a friend and head of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, confirmed their deaths in a statement.
“Canadian society and Iranian community lost one of the best families,” Esmaeilpour said. “Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and his family was one of the most responsible Iranian-Canadian citizens. I extend my condolences to the community and to his family in Canada and in Iran.”
Parisa Eghbalian and Reera Esmaeilion
Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter, nine-year-old Reera Esmaeilion, were both on board the Ukranian flight. Eghbalian was a dentist and co-owner of Aurora Dentistry in Ontario. She owned the practice alongside her husband.
Employees tell Global News they’ve been fielding calls all day from patients wishing to express shock and condolence to the family. The workers said they were devastated at the news of their deaths and that Eghbalian’s husband, Hamed Esmaeilion, was packing to go to Tehran.
The pair were on holiday in Iran for the past two weeks for Eghbalian’s sister’s engagement party.
Her husband described his grief on Facebook.
“Among the three of us, there is so much romance that will stay with me until I die,” he wrote.
Asgar Dhirani, born in 1945, was also confirmed by the Jaffri Islamic Centre to have been on the flight.
Dhirani spent the last 10 years leading religious tours of Shia Islamic shrines in Iran, according Wali Ul Asr, a Muslim school in Brampton, Ont.
“Many of our staff members and students had the opportunity to visit the holy lands under his guidance,” the school said in a statement. “He was extremely helpful, kind and polite.”
Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, Anisa Sadeghi and Mehdi Sadeghi
Three members of a Winnipeg family are among the dead. Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, Anisa Sadeghi, 10, and Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, were confirmed as victims of the plane crash by Welcome Place, where Esfandiari worked.
“We are deeply saddened to have learned a recent former employee was on the flight with her husband and daughter travelling back home to Canada after the holidays,” a Facebook post by the company reads.
A former PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Forough Khadem was confirmed as one of the victims by her colleagues. Khadem worked in immunology and with CancerCare Manitoba.
Khadem and her Ph. D supervisor, Jude Uzonna, had a conversation by text just before she boarded the plane.
“I am ok. My flight back is tonight. Hopefully see you soon. Just a bit worried with the current news going on!!” Khadem replied after Uzonna asked how she was doing.
Evin Arsalani, Hiva Molani and Kurdia Molani
A family of three from Ajax, Ont., are among the victims.
Toronto resident Omid Arsalani told Global News that it was around 3 a.m. Wednesday when he learned that his sister, Evin Arsalani, 30, her husband, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia had been killed. The family was on their way home to Ajax, Ont. – about an hour outside Toronto – from Iran where they had attended a wedding on Dec. 8
“I just wish that I could wake up and that it would be a dream,” Arsalani said. “My sister was my best friend.”
Arsalani first learned about the crash when his older brother knocked on his door and told him his sister was on the flight.
“I opened the door and I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I asked him are they okay are they alive? What’s going on?”
“He said ‘every soul on the plane is dead. Not one person made it.’”
Arsalani said the last time he spoke with his sister was Jan. 2 on her 30th birthday.
“The whole time we talked we cracked jokes, had a good time as she celebrated her birthday,” he said. “The last message I got from her was: only a brother can you like a father, bother you like a sister, and a brother can care for you like a mother. It was the last thing I got from her.”
Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah
Global News has confirmed that married couple Iman Ghaderpanah, a mortgage specialist, and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, an RBC employee, are among the residents from the Greater Toronto area who died in the crash.
The couple volunteered regularly in Tirgan, an Iranian-Canadian non-profit that celebrates arts and culture, according to Mehrdad Ariannejad, who is on the board of directors.
“They were working very closely with us and we knew them personally,” Ariannejad told Global News. “They were really lovely, great people … Parinaz was an energetic person, a very positive person.”
Iman Ghaderpanah who worked with Mortgage Alliance in Toronto is remembered as a “well respected and friendly” colleague.
“It’s really sad news, very shocking,” Yasmine Soliman, director of communications at Mortgage Alliance, told Global News. “He was really well liked.”
RBC, where Parinaz worked as a branch manager, said it was deeply saddened to learn she and her husband were on the flight.
“Our thoughts are with all the victims and their families,” said Gillian McArdle, a spokesperson for RBC. “Our immediate focus is on supporting Ms. Ghaderpanah’s family and our colleagues and clients who worked with her.
Roja Omidbakhsh, a first-year business student at the University of Victoria, died in the crash, the university confirmed Thursday.
“Roja was very positive and had a keen interest in marketing. She was on the pathway to complete a bachelor of commerce,” said Mark Colgate, one of her professors. “We’re heartbroken that this happened and our condolences go to her family and classmates.”
Omidbakhsh went to high school in Dubai, according to her Linkedin profile.
Colgate recalled Omidbakhsh as a positive, mature student who had a presence in his class.
Omidbakhsh was born in 1996, according to a list released by the airline.
Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram, Darya and Dorina Mousavi
Two other University of Alberta professors – a married couple with two daughters – are among the victims.
Pedram Mousavi, who also went by the last name Mousavibafrooei, was an engineering professor at the university. Born in 1972, he earned a Bachelor of Science from Iran University of Science and Technology in 1995.
The mechanical engineer was on the plane with his wife Mojgan Daneshmand and their two daughters Darya and Dorina.
Daneshmand, born in 1976, was an associate professor of engineering at the U of A and Canada Research Chair in radio frequency microsystems.
Their eldest daughter Darya was born in 2005, and their youngest, Dorina, was born in 2010. Dorina, 9, was described by her soccer coach as smart and safety conscious.
Afifa Tarbhai and Alina Tarbhai
Afifa Tarbhai, 55, and her daughter Alina, 31, from the Toronto area, were in Iran for a visit and were on their way back to Canada.
Alina was an administrative clerk at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, according to OSSTF.
“All of us who work at OSSTF/FEESO’s Provincial Office in Toronto are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague, Alina Tarbhai, who was on the Ukraine Airlines flight that crashed in Iran last night,” Harvey Bischof, President of OSSTF, said in a statement. “Alina was a valued employee, and part of a tightly-knit team at Provincial Office. She was respected and well-liked by all. Her passing represents a profound loss for all of us who worked with her.”
According to Afifa’s LinkedIn profile, she was a longtime accounts administrator at Briarlane Rental Property Management in Toronto.
“It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Afifa Tarbhai & her daughter Alina who were on their way back home on flight PS752,” said a spokesperson for Briarlane Rental Property Management. “Afifa was a kind soul with a warm smile and shy laugh and she has been a valued member of Briarlane’s accounting team since April 2012. Our staff is devastated by this news.”
Razgar Rahimi, Farideh Gholami, and their three-year-old son Jiwan Rahimi died in the crash, Centennial College’s president announced Wednesday.
Rahimi was an engineering instructor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology, in Oshawa, Ont., the university said.
After getting engineering degrees from two universities in Iran, Rahimi got a PhD in electrical engineering from UOIT in 2018, according to his Linkedin profile. He taught electrical engineering, circuit design and introductory electronics.
Gholami had a degree in industrial and product design from a university in Iran. On her Linkedin profile, she wrote that her experience as a fashion designer had given her an interest in wearable technologies.
Gholami and Rahimi were both born in 1981.
Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani
Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani were also killed in the crash, according to family and friends who spoke to Global News.
Both lived in North Vancouver and had worked as doctors.
The couple’s daughter Kimia Pourshabanoshibi fought back tears as she remembered her parents.
“I want people to know that they were strong, they were very strong-willed, and they were people who believed that with honest and with good virtue, you can get through anything,” she said.
“They made me see that my purpose in life was to be happy and make happy and live happy.”
Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani
North Vancouver couple Mohammad Hossein Saket and Fatemeh Kazerani were also confirmed dead by family, as well as a local business owner.
Saket worked as an engineer and Kazerani worked as a hygienist, a cousin related to one of them told Global News.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh
A Montreal-based couple was identified by a friend as victims of the plane crash.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh had both recently graduated from a PhD program at École de technologie supérieure. Farzaneh was a lecturer in the engineering department at the school.
Stéphanie Sauvé, the director of communications at ETS, said the deaths come as a blow to the school community.
“You will understand we are in shock,” she said.
“I can’t imagine that I have to use past tense when I’m talking about them,” said their friend, Aria Isapor.
Nova Scotia dentist Sharieh Faghihi was also confirmed by a member of Halifax’s Iranian community to have been on the plane.
Faghihi and her family came to Canada in 2011 and attended the Dalhousie University qualifying program for foreign-trained dentists, according to an alumni magazine article.
Dr. Shadi Ashtari, a close friend of Faghihi, said she was a professor of dentistry at Shiraz University in Iran before coming to Canada 10 years ago.
“She was one of the best periodontists and professors in Iran and one of the best dentists. She was the nicest person that I had ever seen in my life. All of her students, friends, and family loved her and knew her as a warm-hearted person,” said Ashtari.
She said that Faghihi, who has a 23-year-old daughter and 31-year-old son, was visiting her family in Tehran for three weeks before flying back to Canada alone.
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani, of Montreal, had recently married before their plane went down in Iran. According to social media, Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at Pratt and Whitney Canada. Mamani worked for Bombardier.
Both studied at Concordia University, their LinkedIn pages show.
Ali Dolatabadi, a professor at Concordia University, taught Ghafouri-Azar for more than two years. He had a great soul and was a devoted student, according to Dolatabadi.
Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at Pratt and Whitney Canada, according to his LinkedIn profile. He held a master’s in science from Concordia University, where he also worked as an instructor.
Mamani, his wife, also studied at Concordia University and held a master’s degree in mechanical industrial and geoenvironmental engineering. At the time of her death, she worked at Bombardier.
When Dolatabadi last saw Ghafouri-Azar in December, he learned the couple had recently purchased a home on Montreal’s south shore.
“He was extremely dedicated, very polite,” he said. “And very humble and hardworking.
“He always had a smile. A gentleman — a true gentleman.”
Mohammed Moeini was a mechanical designer at Bombardier Recreational Products in Valcourt.
Amin Sadeghi was supposed to pick up Moeini, who is his relative, at the airport on Wednesday when he learned about the crash.
“I need to digest it,” he said. “It’s still unbelievable.
He lived in Montreal for a little under two years when he moved to Sherbrooke to be closer to work, according to Sadeghi. He added Moeini was the kind of person who never complained.
A Bombardier spokesperson said they were saddened to learn of his death and their deepest sympathies go to his family.
“I really can’t imagine what went through the heads of the people on that flight. It must have been just been horrifying,” said Sadeghi.
“He was humble and kind.”
A civil engineering student at the University of Windsor, Pedram Jadidi had big dreams, according to a friend. He was born in Iran and travelled back over the Christmas holiday to visit family. His friend and classmate said he was returning to Canada to begin a new semester.
“Pedram had so many wishes,” his friend, Javad Sadeghi told Global News. “He lost his father just before he came to Canada. He had only his mother.”
He said Jadidi chose to fly with the Ukrainian airline because it was affordable and he was tight on cash, as he was supporting his mother back home.
Another friend, Faraz Talebpour, said he was supposed to be on the same flight but changed his ticket. He said he was supposed to room with Jadidi at some point, but plans fell through.
Hamidreza Setare and Samira Bashiri
Born in Iran, Hamidreza Setare was living in Windsor where he was a PhD student in mechanical engineering at the University of Windsor.
Setare and Samira Bashiri were married, according to a friend. Bashiri was also a student at the school, studying for a masters in medical biotechnology.
“Hamidreza was a very ambitious person,” said his friend, Javad Sadeghi. “He had plans to be a faculty member. He did his masters at Sharif University of Technology, the best university in Iran.”
Images of Setare provided by Sadeghi show the two posing on a field with a soccer ball and cleats.
Another friend and classmate, Faraz Talebpour, described the pair as “a lovely couple.”
Zahra Naghibi was an Iranian-born PhD candidate and research assistant at the University of Windsor’s Turbulence and Energy Lab, according to lab director David S.K. Ting.
She was also an active student leader who served as co-chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Young Professionals Affinity Group, according to IEEE co-chair Faraz Talebpour.
“She was so kind to everyone else. She was just the definition of positivity,” Talebpour told Global News from Iran. He says Naghibi was among five people he knew on the flight, and he would have been on it too if he hadn’t altered his travel plans.
Talebpour described Naghibi as an incredible scientist, engineer, leader and person.
“She was one of the kindest, good-hearted people that I got to know,” he said.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pooneh Gorji
Arash Pourzarabi and his new wife, Pooneh Gorji, were both computer science researchers at the University of Alberta.
They had their wedding in Iran and were returning to Edmonton to continue their studies, Akbari confirmed.
Amir Forouzandeh, who went to school with Pourzarabi and Gorji, called the newlyweds the “kindest souls I knew.”
Amir Hossein Saeedinia, Nasim Rahmanifar, Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi and Elnaz Nabiyi
Amir Hossein Saeedinia, born in 1994, was a new PhD student at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Design of Advanced Materials. An advisor confirmed to Global News that Saeedinia was set to arrive in Edmonton to begin his studies this week and that he was a passenger on the flight.
Nasim Rahmanifar, born in 1994, was also confirmed by a U of A official to have been on the plane. She was a graduate research assistant at U of A’s faculty of engineering, and had a focus on mechanical engineering.
“She was so excited to go back,” friend Sina Esfandiarpour said. “She was texting me: ‘My finals are over.’ She planned to surprise her mom. She didn’t tell her she was coming back.”
University of Alberta students Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi and Elnaz Nabiyi were also confirmed to have been on the plane.
The U of A’s president David H. Turpin said that the community on campus was reeling from the devastating loss.
“It’s a tragic day here at the University of Alberta,” Turpin said. “Words simply cannot express the grief we’re experiencing on campus. We’re a tight-knit community and we grieve when everyone is touched by such terrible loss,” he said.
Turpin said there are close to 500 Iranian students on campus and that the university is working to determine the exact number of students and faculty who were on the flight.
Payman Parseyan, a former president of the heritage society, also said many of the victims were family members and he knew some of the passengers.
“They leave behind families and people they love and they come to Canada and often they’re second guessing, ‘Should I leave my family behind to do this’?” Parseyan said.
“Then they move here and they do all this, just to board a plane and have it all washed away.
Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi Lari
Twenty-three year old Mohammad Asadi Lari and his 21-year-old sister Zeynab Asadi Lari were on the plane as well, friends of the siblings told Global News.
The pair were from Vancouver, and had left the University of British Columbia to study at the University of Toronto. Zeynab was finishing her bachelor of sciences, while her brother had earned his medical degree.
Another friend, Saman Arfaie, wrote on Facebook that Mohammad was “one of my dearest and closest friends.”
“It has been a tragedy that words would not be able to describe, nor do justice, to the magnitude and scope of it,” Arfaie wrote. “We lost some remarkable people today. Their lives and hopes cut short too soon.”
Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, Mohammad Amin Jebelli and Mohammad Saleheh
The University of Toronto confirmed the identities of Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Asadi Lari, Zeynab Asadi Lari, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, Mohammad Amin Jebelli and Mohammad Saleheh as passengers on the plane.
“We have learned, with profound sorrow, that several U of T students were among the 176 people killed in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 in Tehran, Iran,” U of T President Meric Gertler said earlier today in a statement.
The death of Fareed Arasteh was confirmed by Carleton University, where he was a PhD student in biology.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Arasteh was expected to complete his PhD in molecular genetics in 2023. He had previously worked and studied in Tehran.
Carelton University alumnus Mansour Pourjam was among those killed in the crash of Flight PS752
Pourjam graduated from Carleton University in 2001 with a degree in biology. The university confirmed Wednesday that he was on the flight, along with Fareed Arasteh, a PhD student in biology.
Carleton said campus flags have been lowered to half-mast to honour the victims.
“You were an excellent friend to anyone who knew you. Always kind and helping people,” a friend said in a Facebook post. “Always smiling and happy. A wonderful father to Ryan who was SO very important to you. God Bless your family at this tragic time.”
Iman Aghabali is believed to be dead, McMaster University said in a press release. Aghabali was a graduate student at the university in Hamilton, Ont. in the Faculty of Engineering.
According to a profile posted on the university’s website, Aghabali previously studied at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.
The McMaster University press release also said that another PhD student, named Mehdi Eshaghian, is believed to be dead.
Eshaghian studied in Tehran before coming to Canada and joining McMaster in September 2018.
Amirhossien Ghasemi, 32, was a grad student of biomedical engineering the University of Manitoba and a doctor.
Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Ghasemi was on his way back to Winnipeg after visiting family in Iran.
“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.”
Amirhossein Ghorbani, 21, was also confirmed dead by Amir Shirzadi from the Manitoba Iranian Student Association.
Farzahen Naderi and Seyednoojan (Nozhan) Sadr
Farzahen Naderi and her son Seyednoojan Sadr were also confirmed to be on the flight.
Naderi’s husband was not on board the plane.
Farhad Niknam, 44, moved to Winnipeg with his family in 2016 to start a new life in Canada.
Niknam had previously owned his own dental practice in Iran for 15 years but his dream was to open a practice in Canada with his best friend Dr. Sanaz Viladi.
“We were classmates. He was one of the happiest, most kind… the best friend for everybody,” Viladi said. “For me (he) was one of my brothers.”
Viladi said the two of them had been friends for 25 years and she still can’t believe he is gone.“It was a huge shock for me,” she said.
She told Global News Niknam had moved to Toronto with his wife, daughter Yanina, 7, and son two-year-old son Youna.
— With files from Maham Abedi, Rebecca Joseph, Patrick Cain, Caryn Lieberman, Josh Elliott, Kevin Nielsen, Katherine Aylesworth, Karen Bartko, Alexander Quon, Sean Boynton, Allison Bench, Elisha Dacey, Brittany Greenslade, Emily Mertz, Beatrice Britneff and Kalina Laframboise and the Canadian Press.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.