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

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Closures and cancellations in the Bulkley Valley due to COVID-19

Many places and businesses have closed or reduced their hours

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

Concerns raised over publicly discarded masks, gloves

Deputy mayor says behaviour is simply unacceptable in time of elevated public health crisis

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

‘Community is amazing’: Williams Lake woman organizes drive-by birthdays

With self-isolation the norm due to COVID-19 children are missing out

Most Read