03/10/2020

Many of the victims are believed to be Iranian-Canadian students returning home to school after the holidays

Iran plane crash victim Canadian. Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist in Richmond Hill, lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and nine-year-old daughter, Parisa, in the plane crash. Photo provided by Hamed
Family handout/Family handout
Academics returning from holidays, a bride and groom coming back from their wedding, and a one-year-old girl travelling with her parents were among the Canadian victims of a plane crash Wednesday in Tehran that killed all 176 people on board.
The passenger manifest for Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 includes years of birth; the oldest Canadian was born in 1945, the youngest in 2018. The victims had roots across the country. Many were believed to be Iranian-Canadian students returning to school after the winter break. There were also professors, dentists, doctors, a software engineer and a real-estate agent.
The Toronto District School Board and the York Region District School Board said they believed some of the victims include students from their schools, but declined to provide more information until they reached family. The University of Ottawa said it was so far aware of three students who were among the deceased, and the University of Alberta said several members of its community perished in the crash.
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Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist from Richmond Hill, Ont., told The Globe and Mail that he opened presents with his wife and nine-year-old daughter on Christmas night before dropping them off at the Toronto airport, bound for a family gathering in Iran.
They were slated to return on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, Dr. Esmaeilion is heading to Tehran in search of answers: What caused the flight carrying the two people most precious to him to crash four minutes after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport? I have friends here, but no relatives. I have to go. Im alone here, he said.
Also among the victims were Iranians with close connections to Canada, including a PhD student who had begun her studies at the University of Guelph last fall. Ghanimat Azhdari sent an e-mail to her supervisor, Dr. Faisal Moola, shortly before take-off. See you soon, she wrote. Payman Parseyan, a member of the Iranian community in Edmonton, said 27 victims of the crash were from the city; the majority, he said, were international students.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement expressing his sadness and offering his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy. The Globe and Mail is working to learn more about the Flight 752 victims. Here is what we know so far.
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar, 35; Sara Mamani, 36
The couple was returning from their wedding in Iran, said Concordia professor Ali Dolatabadi, who had been a thesis supervisor for Mr. Ghafouri-Azar. He remembered his former student as a very, very nice guy, extremely polite, humble and hard-working, a mechanical engineering masters student who became a friend. Although Mr. Ghafouri-Azar passed his exams around the end of 2018, they remained in touch and saw each other for the last time shortly before this past Christmas. He told me he bought a home in Brossard and he wanted to invite me to the house-warming, Mr. Dolatabadi said. Mr. Ghafouri-Azar had gone to Iran to get married, said the Concordia professor, who identified his bride as Sara Mamani, who had also been a student at the university.
Mohammad Salehe, 32
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Mr. Salehe was a software engineer and developer who came to the University of Toronto about a year and a half ago as a PhD student. He got married shortly before arriving in Toronto and recently told his childhood friend, Mostafa Rokooie, that he was happy with his life in Canada. Mr. Rokooie said he attended middle school and high school in Tehran with Mr. Salehe, a man he describes as intelligent, shy and kind. He really was an exceptional talent, Mr. Rokooie said. He was a very good friend and a very friendly person. Mr. Salehes family is in Tehran and it appears he was in the country with his wife for a visit.
Dr. Parisa Eghbalian, 42; Reera Esmaeilion, 9
Iran plane crash victim Canadian. Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist in Richmond Hill, lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and nine-year-old daughter, Parisa, in the plane crash. Photo provided by Hamed
Family handout/Family handout
Dr. Eghbalian and her daughter had left for Iran on Dec. 25 after opening Christmas presents, said Hamed Esmaeilion. They hadnt been home to visit relatives in about two years and were excited to attend a family gathering. They were aboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, on their way back to Canada. In the last moment I hugged my daughter and we cried a little bit, said Dr. Esmaeilion, who lives in Richmond Hill, Ont.
The husband and wife immigrated to Canada in 2010 from Iran with their daughter, who was six-month-old at the time, for a better quality of life. He and his wife had opened up their dentistry office in Aurora a little over two years ago.
Dr. Eghbalian enjoyed being a dentist; her husband described it one of her passions. They also travelled together as a family, visiting Boston this summer, London last March and New York two years ago.
Reera, who studied French immersion at Adrienne Clarkson Public School in Richmond Hill, could speak three languages, including Farsi. She played the piano but loved soccer, even playing for the rep team in Richmond Hill. In the summertime, she and her dad would play soccer in the backyard almost every day, Dr. Esmaeilion said.
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Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi, 48
Mr. Ebnoddin-Hamidi, a civil engineer from the Vancouver area, was identified as one of the deceased. His LinkedIn profile said he was actively involved in several major B.C. infrastructure projects, including the Canada Line. Im still in shock and refuse to believe youre not with us anymore, said Sara Badiei, who ran for the Liberals during the federal election, in a Facebook post. Thank you for your friendship and contributions to our lives and our community.
Afifa Tarbhai, 55; Alina Tarbhai, 31
The mother and daughter, who lived in the Toronto area, were in Iran for a visit. According to Afifas LinkedIn profile, she was a longtime accounts administrator at Briarlane Rental Property Management in Toronto. Her daughter was an administrative clerk at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, according to a colleague. Zoe Vander Doelen said Alina was a kind and thoughtful and generous person who was recently promoted as a result of her hard work.
She worked very hard. She cared about her work and she really cared about the people that she worked with here, said Ms. Vander Doelen, an HR specialist at OSSTF.
Property records show that Afifa lived in Aurora and her daughter lived in Markham.
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Sharieh Faghihi, 58
Dr. Faghihi was a dentist who practised at Gladstone Dental Centre in Halifax. A professor by the same name is listed on Dalhousie Universitys website as a member of the Faculty of Dentistry, but a spokesman for the school would not immediately confirm if she was among those killed in the crash.
Sahar Haghjoo, 37; Elsa Jadidi, 8
A mother and her eight-year-old daughter from Torontos East end were killed aboard the plane crash. Sahar Haghjoo, 37, worked at the Toronto YWCA to help settle immigrant and refugee women in Canada. Her only child, eight-year-old Elsa, was with her on the plane.
They had both left Canada to visit family in Iran in early December. The father of the family had returned from Iran to Toronto about a week ago and was expecting to welcome his wife and daughter back home on Wednesday.
That was when the family learned that tragedy struck. I was over to see them, said neighbour Anne McCullagh. She said she had noticed a number of cars outside the familys Scarborough home when she knocked at the door. It was at that point that a relative told her Shes gone and Elsa too.
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Ms. McCullagh said her granddaughters used to play with eight-year-old Elsa, who was an only child. She was a beautiful child, she said. They were just beautiful, beautiful people.
Firoozeh Radjai, an executive with the YWCA Toronto, said Ms. Haghjoo had worked there since 2015 and that she had once been a TV broadcaster in Iran. Ms. Haghjoos role at the YWCA was to run settlement programs for immigrant women in Toronto. These programs teach job skills that allow refugees and immigrants to provide for their families. We are devastated, said Ms. Radjai.
Suzan Golbabapour, 49
Ms. Golbabapour joined a Remax Richmond Hill office about a year ago, where she worked to sell homes in the North Toronto community that is like a home base for the Persian community in Canada.
She was very young, very bright, very ambitious, said Johnder Perez, a manager for the office.
She was a newer agent to us. He described her as full of high energy and very positive.
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He said Ms. Golbabapour had a local husband but also had a family back in Iran. Ms. Golbabapours Instagram account shows that she also worked as a personal fitness trainer.
Evin Arsalani, 30; Hiva Molani, 38; Kurdia Molani, 1
The death toll includes a young GTA family: Evin Arsalani, her husband Hiva Molani and their toddler daughter Kurdia Molani, Ms. Arsalanis brother Amir confirmed to The Globe.
The trio was heading back to Ajax after travelling to Iran a month ago to attend a wedding, another brother, Omid Arsalani, told CBC. He said the last time he spoke with his sister was on her 30th birthday last week.
She was happy, she saw family members, all the people in the family she hasnt seen in years,” Omid Arsalani told CBC.
Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, 29
Mr. Esfahani was a PhD candidate in civil engineering at the University of Waterloo who travelled to Iran last month to get married, according to his friend Alireza Mohamadizadeh, a fellow Waterloo graduate student. He was so happy, Mr. Mohamadizadeh said. He had so many good plans for his life. Now everything is gone in a minute.
Mr. Mohamadizadeh said that his friends new wife, Hanieh, was not on the ill-fated flight out of Tehran; she had planned to join her husband in Canada in February. Mr. Esfahani, who was originally from Isfahan, the third-largest city in Iran, was conducting doctoral research focused on construction automation and management. He had been studying at Waterloo since arriving in Canada in September of 2017. Matthew Grant, a spokesman for the University of Waterloo, said in a statement that the school is aware that the passenger manifest for flight PS752 included names that matched those of Mr. Esfahani, and of Marzieh Foroutan, who went by Mari. She is listed on the passenger manifest as an Iranian citizen. She was a pHD candidate in geography. He was so kind, Mr. Mohamadizadeh said of Mr. Esfahani. He was one of the greatest guys I ever met.
Iman Ghaderpanah, 34; Parinaz Ghaderpanah, 33
This couple was active in Tirgan, an Iranian-Canadian charitable organization that puts on a biennial festival celebrating arts and culture, according to a photographer who knew them through the events. In a Facebook post, Tirgan confirmed the deaths of two of the most-loved members of the community. We will always remember Parinaz for her beautiful soul, contagious energy, warm positive attitude, and unconditional dedication. Their untimely departure leaves a permanent void in our hearts, the group said. Mr. Ghaderpanah was described by executives at Mortgage Alliance, where he was an independent mortgage agent, as kind, humble and respected in the community. A very nice likeable individual a gentleman to be around, said company COO Joe Pinheiro.
Saba Saadat, 21
A Bachelor of Science student at the University of Alberta, Ms. Saadat was visiting family in Iran when Flight 752 crashed. She was alongside her mother, Shekoufeh Choupannejad, an OB-GYN in Edmonton and her sister, Sara Saadat.
Ms. Saadat had just completed her applications to medical school and hoped to attend next fall, said her mentor Rabib Alam, the mentorship coordinator for SEED Society Alberta, a not for profit organization in Edmonton that assists families in need. Ms. Saadat had volunteered with the organization for several years, along with other volunteer pursuits, and was a very dedicated member, Mr. Alam said. Before she left for Iran, Ms. Saadat had wrapped up work on the societys annual Helping Hampers campaign, coordinating with high schools and businesses in the Edmonton area to bring donations to families.
She had a kind heart, a kind soul, whatever she did was out of the goodness of her heart, Mr. Alam said. It really is a tragedy that as a society weve lost someone as talented as her, someone who could do wonders in the near future.
Mr. Alam also called Ms. Saadat a brilliant scholar. Last summer, she conducted research through a studentship with the University of Albertas Faculty of Medicine of Dentistry. Last fall, the research institute posted on Twitter that Saadat spent her summer alongside one of their scholars growing a placenta (!) in a dish to understand the organ and the role it plays in pregnancy complications.
Along with her family, Ms. Saadat moved to Canada in 2011, said Mr. Alam.
Forough Khadem, 38
Ms. Khadem was a scientist who completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Manitoba in 2016. Her undergraduate and masters studies in Tehran focused on plant sciences, and her work in Canada focused on developing immunity to leishmaniasis, a deadly infectious disease.
On Monday the University of Manitoba released a statement noting that its staff have reason to believe that our alumnus, colleague & friend Dr. Forough Khadem has tragically passed in #tehran crash. She was a unique & accomplished human being who would do anything to help anyone and will never be forgotten. We offer our deepest condolences to her family.
After completing her PhD, Ms. Khadem worked as a business development specialist at Mitacs Inc., a Canadian not-for-profit organization that that partners with industry, academia and government to foster research-based innovation. In a sign of her growing familiarity with Canadian culture, Ms. Khadem tweeted her congratulations to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in November after they won the Grey Cup, adding: I could not figure out how the scores were calculated for the longest time in the past few years, no matter how many [times] others explained it for me! But this time, while watching the @Wpg_BlueBombers championship game, I got it all figured out!