/Students, doctors, children: Ukrainian airliner crash victims had roots across Canada – The Globe and Mail
Students, doctors, children: Ukrainian airliner crash victims had roots across Canada – The Globe and Mail

Students, doctors, children: Ukrainian airliner crash victims had roots across Canada – The Globe and Mail

Victims of the Ukrainian plane crash, clockwise from top left: Ghanimat Azhdari; Daria Mousavi, 14; Pedram Mousavi, 47; Mojgan Daneshmand, 43; Dorina Mousavi, 9; Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, 29; Forough Khadem, 38; Sharieh Faghihi, 58; Suzan Golbabapour, 49; Saba Saadat, 21; Sara Saadat, 23; Shekoufeh Choupannejad, 56.


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 that some of the victims include students from their schools. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the victims’ schools and board offices. The University of Ottawa said it was so far aware of three students who were among the deceased.

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 Reera 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. I’m 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

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani.

Gounash Pirniya/The Canadian Press

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 master’s 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

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. Salehe’s 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

Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist in Richmond Hill, lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and nine-year-old daughter, Reera, in the plane crash.

Courtesy of family

Dr. Eghbalian and her daughter had left for Iran on Dec. 25 after opening Christmas presents, said Hamed Esmaeilion. They hadn’t 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.

Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, 48; Niloufar Razzaghi, 45; Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, 15

Mr. Hamidi, his wife Niloufar and son Kamyar had been visiting family in Iran, a friend said. A civil engineer in the Vancouver area, Mr. Hamidi had been “actively involved” in several major B.C. infrastructure projects, including the Canada Line, according to his LinkedIn profile, and currently worked for Metro Testing and Engineering Ltd.

“Sometimes you see a person and feel that you’ve been friends with him forever,” said Kamal Eshfagh, a friend and fellow board member on the Tricity Iranian Cultural Society (TCICS).

Ms. Razzaghi had recently completed her postsecondary education at the University of British Columbia, and was embarking on her teaching career, said Behzad Abdi, another family friend and chair of TCICS.

Afifa Tarbhai, 55; Alina Tarbhai, 31

The mother and daughter, who lived in the Toronto area, were in Iran for a visit. According to Afifa’s 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.

In a statement, OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said the office was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the death of Alina. The statement described her as a respected and well-liked colleague whose death represents a “profound loss.”

A man who answered the phone at the Tarbhai residence in Aurora said the family is too distraught to speak about the deaths of Afifa and Alina.

In a statement, Briarlane Rental Property Management said Afifa was a “kind soul with a warm smile and a shy laugh.” She had been an employee with the company’s accounting team since April 2012. Staff are “devastated” by the news.

Sharieh Faghihi, 58

Halifax dentist Dr. Sharieh Faghihi.


Dr. Faghihi was a dentist who practised at Gladstone Dental Centre in Halifax. A professor by the same name is listed on Dalhousie University’s 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 Toronto’s 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 family’s Scarborough home when she knocked at the door. It was at that point that a relative told her “She’s gone and Elsa too.”

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. Haghjoo’s 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

Suzan Golbabapour, 49, Real Estate agent and fitness trainer.


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.”

He said Ms. Golbabapour had a local husband but also had a family back in Iran. Ms. Golbabapour’s Instagram account shows that she also worked as a personal fitness trainer.

Evin Arsalani, 30; Hiva Molani, 38; Kurdia Molani, 1

Hiva Molani (left); Evin Arsalani, (centre); Kurdia Molani. Instagram

Courtesy of family

The death toll includes a young GTA family: Evin Arsalani, her husband Hiva Molani and their toddler daughter Kurdia Molani, Ms. Arsalani’s 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 hasn’t seen in years,” Omid Arsalani told CBC.

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, 29

University of Waterloo PhD student Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani at Lake Louise on June 19, 2019.

Alireza Mohamadizadeh/Courtesy of family

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 friend’s 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

Iman (left) and Parinaz Ghaderpanah.

Azita Ziaei/Handout

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; Shekoufeh Choupannejad, 56; Sara Saadat, 23

Dr. Shekoufeh Choupannejad and daughters Sara Saadat and Saba Saadat.


A Bachelor of Science student at the University of Alberta, Saba 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, who graduated from the University of Alberta in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in sociology.

Saba 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. Saba 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, Saba had wrapped up work on the society’s 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 we’ve lost someone as talented as her, someone who could do wonders in the near future.”

Mr. Alam also called Saba a “brilliant scholar.” Last summer, she conducted research through a “studentship” with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine of Dentistry. Last fall, the research institute posted on Twitter that Saba 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, Saba moved to Canada in 2011, said Mr. Alam.

Forough Khadem, 38

Forough Khadem, 38, was a scientist who completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Manitoba in 2016.

University of Manitoba

Ms. Khadem was a scientist who completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Manitoba in 2016. Her undergraduate and master’s studies in Tehran focused on plant sciences, and her work in Canada focused on developing immunity to leishmaniasis, a deadly infectious disease.

On Wednesday 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!”

Pedram Mousavi, 47; Mojgan Daneshmand, 43; Daria Mousavi, 14; Dorina Mousavi, 9

University of Alberta professors Mojgan Daneshmand (right) and Pedram Mousavi, pose with their daughters Daria and Dorina Mousavi in an undated family photo.


The Edmonton-based family was among the victims of the crash, said Payman Parseyan, a member of the city’s tight-knit Iranian community.

Mr. Mousavi was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he worked for the past decade. He received his bachelor’s degree from Iran University, and his master’s and PhD from the University of Manitoba, according to his university biography. He previously worked for companies in Waterloo, Toronto and Edmonton, according to his LinkedIn page.

His wife, Ms. Daneshmand, was an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Alberta, as well as a Canada Research Chair. She was also a publicity and community engagement coordinator at the university. In 2016, Ms. Daneshmand received a distinguished mid-career award her scientific contribution to the field of microwave engineering and for “being a role model for women in engineering,” her university biography says.

Mr. Parseyan called the two professors “amazing people.” “We’d also joke around about food or politics,” he said. He called Mr. Mousavi “a humble guy,” who was friendly and open.

Alireza Nouri, another engineering professor at the university who had become friends with the couple, said Mr. Mousavi and Ms. Daneshmand were in Iran with their children for a yearly trip to see family.

“They were fantastic people,” he said. “They were very kind, passionate about their community and their work.”

He said their deaths have had a major impact on the university.

“Everybody here is shocked,” he said. “It’s hard to concentrate today.”

Arash Pourzarabi, 26; Pouneh Gorji, 25

Mr. Pourzarabi and Ms. Gorji were University of Alberta students who had travelled home to Iran to wed and celebrate with family and friends. They had boarded the plane on their way back to Alberta, said Reza Akbari, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton (IHSE).

Mr. Akbari confirmed at least 27 members of Edmonton’s tight-knit Iranian community have died in the crash, including numerous doctors and a University of Alberta professor.

He said many of those were in some way associated with the university and returned to Iran to visit family and friends over the winter break. “It is heartbreaking,” he said.

The impact of the deaths will be felt outside the Iranian community. “The doctors, they have patients that can be anybody, regardless of their background or their culture. The university professor, he passed on education to anybody – students from all cultures and backgrounds,” he said. “It’s certainly a shock to all of Canada, but particularly Edmonton.”

Mr. Akbari said the IHSE is working with the Iranian students society to seek support from the University of Alberta and help the families of those who lost their lives. A memorial service for the victims is tentatively scheduled for this weekend.

Mansour Pourjam, 53

Undated Facebook image of Mansour Pourjam, 53, is pictured with his son Ryan.

Courtesy of family

Mr. Pourjam, a lab technician who had worked at the Ottawa Denture & Implant Centre for 12 years, was returning to Canada after visiting family in Iran over the holidays.

“He always had the ability to make us laugh,” said Robert Macleay, a denturist who worked with Mr. Pourjam and said he was “a great one for lending a hand.”

“We lost a friend. This is not just a co-worker.” Mr. Macleay added that Mr. Pourjam had a son, Ryan, 13, “who he thought the world of.”

Mr. Pourjam graduated from Carleton University in 2001 with a degree in biology. The university confirmed Wednesday afternoon 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 two men as well as the other victims.

Ghanimat Azhdari

Ghanimat Azhdari was on holiday from her PhD program at the University of Guelph.

Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN)

Despite her small physical stature, Ms. Azhdari was a firecracker – a proud woman from a tribal territory in Iran described by those who knew her as a champion of Indigenous rights and biodiversity.

Ms. Azhdari had travelled to Iran in mid-December to visit her family, on holiday from her PhD program at the University of Guelph in Ontario. She started her studies in September, working on the issue of conservation under the supervision of Dr. Faisal Moola in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics. “I was just talking to Ghanimat before she got on the plane,” he told The Globe. “The shock is sort of wearing off, and I’m overcome with emotion.”

Ms. Azhdari, who was involved in international negotiations related to biodiversity that took place in Montreal last month, was celebrated on social media by various non-profits as a defender of Indigenous rights and environmental justice.

In an e-mail exchange before the flight departed, Dr. Moola and Ms. Azhdari discussed her return to the lab and the increasing tensions in the Middle East. “Everything in Iran is safe, secure and normal,” Ms. Azhdari wrote. “There is just news full of menace from both sides and we hope for peace in 2020 in the region as well as the world.” She told Dr. Moola she would be landing in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon. He was slated to pick her up.

“See you soon,” Ms. Azhdari wrote.

Alireza (Ali) Pey, 47

Alireza (Ali) Pey.


Kanata-based startup entrepreneur Mr. Pey was among those on board, according to members of the Ottawa Iranian community who confirmed his identity to the Ottawa Citizen. The father of two young girls, Mr. Pey held a degree in electrical engineering and worked at Nortel Networks in the early 2000s. In 2015, he founded Message Hopper, a text message service for businesses to reach customers for marketing as well as appointment scheduling.

Kaveh Shakouri, who founded a settlement services organization to help Farsi-speaking newcomers to Ottawa, said Mr. Pey started a club for Iranian parents and helped run workshops on business skills. “I could trust him and depend on him whenever I needed him.”

Mr. Pey was divorced from the mother of his children and though he only saw his daughters for a few days every two weeks, his home was filled with their pictures and toys, Mr. Shakouri said. “He was a really good father.”

Behnaz Ebrahimi, 45

A Toronto resident, Ms. Ebrahimi worked at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation as a property valuation analyst for the past seven years. “Behnaz was a highly valuable and respected member of our Valuation and Customer Relations team and she will be greatly missed by all those who had the opportunity to work with her,” president Nicole McNeill said in a statement. According to media reports, Ms. Ebrahimi was travelling with her nine-year-old, Rahmtin Ahmadi.

Maya Zibaie, 15

Maya was a Grade 10 student at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. In a letter to families at the school, the principal shared the news of Maya’s death and wrote that the student was new to Canada, enjoyed attending high school and “often shared with staff how excited she was about her future and reaching her academic goals.”

Delaram Dadashnejad, 26

Ms. Dadashnejad was studying in Vancouver and was returning to the city from Tehran, her friend, Dina Sarpoushan of North Vancouver, said on Wednesday. Ms. Dadashnejad was an “amazing girl” who was funny and generous with her friends and will be deeply missed by a wide circle of acquaintances, Ms. Sarpoushan said.

Niloufar Sadr, 61

Niloufar Sadr is photographed with her father, the late Iranian political activist Ahmad Sayyed Javadi.


Ms. Sadr was a mother of three whose family was entrenched in Iranian political activism and had deep roots in Montreal’s Iranian community. Her father, the late Ahmad Sayyed Javadi, was a lawyer who represented many radicals in the lead up to the 1979 Iranian revolution, including Iran’s now Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Although Ms. Sadr’s father served as the first Interior Minister of post-revolution Iran, he fell out of favour because of his public criticism of the regime, according to PBS Frontline.) Ms. Sadr had managed a now closed art gallery in Montreal, Maison d’édition Ketabe Iran Canada, which served as a hub for Iranian celebrations and political discourse, said her friend Sahar Mofidi. In 2009 Ms. Sadr was interviewed by La Presse about her intention to vote in that year’s Iranian election. She railed against the country’s then leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying: “We want to rebuild Iran’s reputation internationally.” In recent years, Ms. Sadr relocated to the Toronto area, Ms. Mofidi said. In a statement to The Globe, Ms. Sadr’s daughter, Asieh Banisadr, called her “beautiful, kind and loving.”

Naser Pourshabanoshibi, 53 and Firouzeh Madani, 54

Dr. Pourshabanoshibi and Dr. Madani were returning to North Vancouver from a trip to Iran to visit their parents. Majid Mahichi, a director at Parvaz Television, confirmed the couple, both doctors, had died in the crash. Mr. Mahichi said he had known Dr. Pourshabanoshibi since they were childhood classmates in Iran more than three decades ago and described him as a top student and dedicated doctor.

In a 2015 blog post on the website NewToBC, Dr. Madani said she and her husband and daughter came to Canada in 2013. She and her husband grappled with the challenge of finding work with foreign qualifications while their daughter, now 19, faced starting high school in a new country.

Still, Dr. Madani said she appreciated things many Canadians take for granted, including freedom of speech, public education “and that everyone is respected regardless of age, race, gender and other personal matter.”

Their daughter was also in Iran and came back a week earlier than her parents, said Sara Hezarkhani, the couple’s niece.

“They were the most loving, caring individuals that one could know. There was no single person that would meet them and not fall in love with them,” she said. “It’s too big of a loss for us.”

Zahra Naghibi, 44

Zahra Naghibi was a civil engineer and PhD candidate at the University of Windsor.


Ms. Naghibi was a civil engineer and PhD candidate at the University of Windsor, working on issues surrounding energy and food production. She and her husband were returning from a holiday trip to Iran.

“Zahra was one of the sweetest human beings that we have encountered,” said Prof. David S-K. Ting, one of the heads of the Turbulence and Energy Laboratory at which Ms. Naghibi worked, in an e-mail. “I will always remember the way she responded ‘I see’ with a sweet smile after I made one of my usual sarcastic, constructive comments,” said Prof. Ting.

Her thesis proposal, on the advanced energy modelling of indoor agricultural systems, had just been accepted in December. During her time at the lab, Ms. Naghibi also published two book chapters and was in the process of publishing a scholarly article.

Prof. Rupp Carriveau, Ms. Naghibi’s other boss, remembers her as someone who “said yes to every challenge, undaunted.”

“I am personally devastated by this loss because of what she was doing for the planet and people on it,” said Prof. Carriveau. “She was truly special and inspired infectious happiness wherever she went.”

Shakiba Feghahati, 39; Rosstin Moghaddam, 10

Shakiba Feghahati and Rosstin Moghaddam


Shahin Moghaddam of King City, Ont. fell to the floor when he heard that his wife, Shakiba, and their only son, Rosstin, had perished on flight PS752. Ms. Feghahati was, “amazing and one in a million,” her husband said through tears, describing how she had helped both their son and their metal fabrication business to thrive. Rosstin was a gifted and enthusiastic fourth grader who love Tae Kwon Do, swimming, volleyball and playing the piano, his father said. Mother and son were in Iran to visit Ms. Feghahati’s parents for the first time in eight years. Mr. Moghaddam is planning to travel to Iran soon. “I have to go,” he said. “I have to put my son [in] the grave.”

Mahdieh Ghassemi, 38; Arsan Niazi, 11; Arnica Niazi, 8

Mahdieh Ghassemi 38, Arsan Niazi, 11 (son), Arnica Niazi, 8 (daughter) . Husband and father Hamid Niazi was not on Flight 752.


Ms. Ghassemi, an architect, won an award for building a Tim Hortons just days before she embarked on a family trip to her homeland. “We all told her not to board the flight,” said Nitin Malhotra, founder of N Architecture Inc. At the time he conveyed he was worried about December’s riots in Iran. But his prized employee could never be deterred from doing anything she set her mind to, he said. “She was very resilient – and stubborn as well.”

Ms. Ghassemi had studied architecture in Iran. After immigrating to Canada she worked as an intern as she re-established her credentials. “I had to give her rapid raises because she was so good,” said Mr. Malhotra, who hired her 5 years ago.

She became his “right hand” as they designed Toronto-area stores, churches and banquet halls and was a loving mother of two children, Arsan and Arnica, also killed in the crash.

Sheyda Shadkhoo, 41

Ms. Shadkhoo was “caring, kind and funny,” said friend Marjan Jabalameli. According to Ms. Shadkhoo’s LinkedIn profile, she worked as a control substances coordinator at the the Markham office of SGS, a multinational inspection, verification, testing and certification company. She was a graduate of the pharmaceutical quality assurance and quality control program at AAPS, a private college with campuses in Toronto and Mississauga. In an online message, Ms. Jabalameli described Ms. Shadkhoo as someone who was full of life, energy and could always make her friends laugh.

Mohsen Salahi, 31; Mahsa Amirliravi, 30

Mr. Salahi was a mechanical engineer and Ms. Amirliravi was a civil engineer, according to their respective LinkedIn profile pages. Both also worked as instructors at Toronto’s Cestar College of Business, Health and Technology in the quality engineering, construction project management and the chemical laboratory analysis programs. Michael Vourakes, director of Cestar, wrote in an e-mail to staff that Mr. Salahi and Ms. Amirliravi were “tremendous individuals”. Mr. Vourakes said the couple had formed strong bonds with college staff and faculty members and that they will be greatly missed by the college. They were both fantastic teachers and touched the lives of many students during their three years at the college, the e-mail said. Property records show the couple purchased a home last March on a tree-lined street in Richmond Hill.

Maryam Malek, 41

Ms. Malek was attending the Master of Finance program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, according to a statement from the university. “This is an evolving situation and the university continues to work with the relevant authorities for more information,” the unsigned statement says. She was one of two students from the same program listed as passengers on the flight.

Fatemeh Mahmoodi, 31

Ms. Mahmoodi was also attending the Master of Finance program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, the university said. “We extend our thoughts to family, friends and loved ones of anyone impacted by this tragedy,” the university said in an unsigned statement.

Farzaneh Naderi, 38; Nozhan Sadr, 11

Also among the dead were a mother and son, Farzaneh Naderi and Nozhan Sadr, who, according to reports, were from Winnipeg.

Arshia Arbabbahrami

Mr. Arbabbahrami was an international student at Calgary’s Western Canada High School. The Grade 12 student had been studying in the city for three years, and principal Carma Cornea said Mr. Arbabbahrami was involved in the track and field, and swim and dive teams at the school.

“Arshia was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran,” Ms. Cornea said in a note to school families on Wednesday.

“He dreamt of being a doctor, and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to.”

School officials announced the difficult news to students just after lunch on Wednesday, and the guidance department set up a memorial table. Students are writing condolence notes that will be shared with the family.

“This tragedy has deeply impacted our community, and reminds us of the importance and value of heartfelt connections to one another,” Ms. Cornea wrote.

Iman Aghabali, 28

Mr. Aghabali was an electrical engineer who moved to McMaster University in 2017 as a PhD student focused on hybrid automobiles. He posted a selfie with his friend Mehdi Eshaghian, who was studying in the same faculty at McMaster, moments before the Ukrainian International flight took off from Tehran. The Iranian student association at McMaster saluted a man who, it said, “always celebrated Iranian traditions with our community.” In a statement, the university confirmed the man was on the flight. “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 university president David Farrar.

Mehdi Eshaghian

Mehdi Eshaghian.

McMaster University

McMaster University identified Mr. Eshaghian as a PhD student in the faculty of engineering, along with Mr. Aghabali.

Ali Mazaheri said his best friend Mr. Eshaghian would have turned 25 in a week. He had been in Iran seeing friends and family and had taken the doomed flight because it was cheapest route back to Canada, Mr. Mazaheri said. He 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.

Fareed Arasteh, 32

Mr. Arasteh was in Iran to marry his then-fiancée Maral Gorginpour during his university break. After a long courtship they were married on Sunday. She remained in Iran waiting for a visa to join her new husband in Canada. Mr. Arasteh only received admission to Ottawa’s Carleton University in August, as a PhD student in molecular genetics. He planned to finish his biology doctorate in 2023.

His widow’s cousin, Golnaz Shaverdi, said he spent his last days talking about his future. “He talked about all their plans and their dreams about life,” she said, breaking into tears. “He was young. It’s not fair that it happened to him.”

Ms. Shaverdi said the family is shaken by news of his death, especially his new bride, Maral. “She’s devastated. He was such a nice guy. Everyone is, of course, devastated and they are also very worried for his wife, because she’s going through a very hard time now.”

Faezeh Falsafi, 46

Faezeh Falsafi.


Ms. Falsafi, who went by Fran, was in Iran visiting family, according to a colleague in Toronto. Ms. Falsafi, who lived in Richmond Hill, Ont., was a sales representative at HomeLife/Bayview Realty Inc. “There’s something radiant about her,” colleague Olga Moss said. Ms. Moss will remember Ms. Falsafi’s head of curls and kind soul. Ms. Moss felt uneasy Wednesday morning, before she received word Ms. Falsafi perished. Ms. Moss said she was told Ms. Falsafi travelled to Iran with two of her children, who also perished. Ms. Falsafi has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Sharif University of Technology and a MBA from Islamic Azad University, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Asgar Dhirani, 74

Asgar Dhirani.

Courtesy of family

Mr. Dhirani was in Iran with his wife Razia leading a religious tour of Shia Islamic shrines. The couple, who also travelled to Iraq, regularly conducted tours and volunteered at orphanages in the two countries, said daughter Rehana Dhirani.

“He was an amazing man,” she said. “Not one person would ever say a bad thing about my dad.”

Mr. Dhirani, a semi-retired accountant and proud grandfather, was not supposed to be on Flight 752 but was booked on the jetliner because his original flight was full. His wife travelled home to the GTA on a different flight.

“He called my brother and I before he got on the plane to tell us that he loved us and he was looking forward to spending time with us and the boys,” Rehana Dhirani said.

Mr. Dhirani, who loved taking his five grandsons golfing, became a proud Canadian after immigrating from Tanzania in 1975, his daughter said.

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan, 37

Ms. Foroutan was a PhD student in geography at the University of Waterloo, a spokesman for the school confirmed. Ms. Foroutan’s research page on Waterloo’s website describes her work as focusing on “the application of new algorithms and technologies in remote sensing to study climate change.” She also held degrees from the University of Calgary and from Shiraz University in Iran. The passenger manifest for the flight lists her citizenship as Iranian.

Razgar Rahimi, 38; Jiwan Rahimi, 3; Farideh Gholami

Razgar Rahimi.


Razgar Rahimi was a sessional lecturer at Ontario Tech University and faculty member at Centennial College. He died aboard Flight 752 alongside his son, Jiwan, and wife, Farideh Gholami.

Mr. Rahimi taught several classes at Ontario Tech University, including digital signal processing and introductory electronics. He received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Ontario Tech University in 2018. His previous degrees were from universities in Tehran, according to his LinkedIn.

“The university offers its deepest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Dr. Rahimi, and to everyone who is mourning the loss of loved ones in connection with the tragedy in Iran,” Ontario Tech University wrote in a statement.

Gabriel Pizarro, a fourth-year electrical engineering student at Ontario Tech University, called Mr. Rahimi “a completely different kind of professor.”

“He legitimately cared about the students learning the material,” said Mr. Pizarro. “With my classmates, whenever they had an issue, he would completely understand and put himself in our situation.”

Mohammad Asadi Lari, 23, and Zeynab Asadi Lari, 21

Mohammad Asadi Lari and Zeynab Asadi Lari.

Courtesy of family

The siblings were returning to Canada after visiting their parents and younger sister in Iran, according to a friend Bushra Ebadi. Both were students at the University of Toronto. Mohammad studied medicine and Zeynab was in her third year of a science degree.

They believed in the power of education and dedicated their short lives to helping people.

Mohammad co-founded STEM Fellowship, which mentors youth in science, technology, engineering and math. He was a youth adviser for the Canadian Red Cross as well as a member of the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“He was one of the smartest, kindest, genuine people I know. He was so full of potential,” said Mohit Sodhi, a friend and executive at STEM Fellowship.

Zeynab was equally passionate about giving back to her community. She called education a weapon that was stronger than any other. “They had a huge impact on everyone they met,” said Ms. Ebadi, president of the youth advisory group at the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

The siblings immigrated to Canada in 2013, according to their social media profiles.

Mohammad Moeini, 35

Mr. Moeini worked as a mechanical designer for Bombardier Recreational Products in Valcourt, Que.

Elaine Arsenault, a spokesperson for the company, said in a statement: “We are saddened by the news of an employee’s death. Our deepest sympathies go out to Mohammad’s family and all the families of the victims of this tragedy. The thoughts of BRP’s senior management and employees are with them.”

Saeed Kashani, 30

Mr. Kashani was a PhD candidate in chemistry at the University of Ottawa, said his friend Sareh Soleimani. She said he had returned to Iran to visit his parents, his sister and his younger brother for the first time in years and when he left, she said he declared he wouldn’t be going back again soon. She said Mr. Kashani planned to get his Canadian citizenship and make his life in Canada, though he had strong ties to his family. His little brother, Ms. Soleimani said, especially adored him. “I’m in shock,” she said. “I was hoping he wouldn’t go back.”

Milad Nahavandi, 34

Milad Nahavandi.


Mr. Nahavandi was a PhD student in the Industrial Bioproduct Lab at Western University in London, Ont.

He spent the last two years there as a graduate research assistant, where he specialized in computational fluid dynamics.

He expected to have his PhD in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering by 2021.

Mr. Nahavandi, born in Malayer, Iran, studied in his home country and in the United States before coming to Canada in 2017. He listed himself as single on his Facebook page, and identified his favourite music as Bob Marley, the Eagles and Kylie Morgan. On his birthday in December, friends writing in Persian posted wishes for good health and success.

Mohammad (Daniel) Saket, 33, and Fatemah (Faye) Kazerani, 32

Mohammad Saket and Fatemah Kazerani.

Rosewood Photography

Mr. Saket, an engineer at North Vancouver-based real estate developer Denna Homes and his wife, Ms. Kazerani, died in the crash, the company confirmed.

“This has been a very trying day for the Denna Homes family,” said Dan Thomson, vice-president of marketing, in a statement. “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.

“Daniel and Faye both had a zest for life that lit up every room they entered.”

Farzad Taheri said he saw his cousins just before Christmas. “We were the only family they had in Canada,” he said. Mr. Taheri described Mr. Saket as “extremely kind, generous, humble genius” and said Ms. Kazerani “was the most positive, also extremely kind and generous woman.”

Mojtaba Abbasnezhad​, 26

Mr. Abbasnezhad was a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s engineering department. He was was 26 years old and his mother passed away about two years ago.

“The day I left Iran I didn’t shed a tear, I had stress but didn’t miss anything,” Mr. Abbasnezhad wrote a week ago on Twitter, according to a translation from his friend Pooya Poolad. “After my mom passed away, I lost my roots to any place. Nowhere feels home to me, Toronto, Tehran, Ahvaz all are same.”

Mr. Poolad, another PhD candidate at the U of T, said the pair were close. “I don’t remember anything but kindness from him. He was still actively helping students that are wishing to get admission from Canadian universities even after he got here,” Mr. Poolad said in an e-mail.

Mr. Abbasnezhad also tweeted about the possibility of war before boarding the fatal flight.

“I had predicted there would be war just before my flight. Forgive me if you’ve seen any good or bad [in me],” Mr. Abbasnezhad wrote, according to a translation of the post. Mr. Abbasnezhad included a laughing emoji in the tweet. (Al Arabiya, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, is a news organization owned by Middle East Broadcasting Center.)

Arvin Morattab, 37

Mr. Morattab is listed as a senior power system engineer at Eaton – a Dublin-based manufacturer of electronics and electrical systems – in Saint-Bruno, Quebec. According to the Windsor Star, he was travelling with his wife Aida Farzaneh, returning to Montreal after visiting family in Iran. His twin brother Armin Morattab had planned to pick the couple up at the airport, the report said. In his Linkedin profile, Mr. Morattab indicated he came to Quebec from Iran in 2011 to study power systems at the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal. He took an internship at Hydro-Quebec and worked as a tutor and research assistant before landing a job at Eaton last September.

Bahareh Hajesfandiari, 41, Anisa Sadeghi, 10, Mirmohammad Sadeghi, 43

CBC Manitoba said the family of three were among those killed in the crash.

Mr. Sadeghi and Ms. Hajesfandiari were both civil engineers who worked at construction companies in Winnipeg, CBC reported.

A family friend told CBC the couple came to Winnipeg in 2016 and quickly became involved in the community, working in the sponsorship department of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the council said it was deeply saddened to have learned that a recent former employee was on the flight with her husband and daughter travelling back home to Canada after the holidays.

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.

Amirhossien Ghasemi

Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Mr. Ghasemi was on the plane. He had been visiting family in Iran and was on his way back to Winnipeg, where he was a graduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of Manitoba. “I saw him before he left the country,” said Mr. 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.”

Nasim Rahmanifar

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 said at a news conference.

He said he received a text from Ms. 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 Mr. Esfandiarpour. “She just came in May and she said, ‘They told me it was just freezing cold.’ She is never going to see that.”

One of her supervisors, Prof. Hossein Rouhani, said Ms. Rahmanifar was a highly motivated, hard-working student who had recently earned a scholarship.

Hamidreza Setareh, 31, and Samira Bashiri, 29

Mr. Setareh and Ms. Bashiri 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 Ms. Bashiri had 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, Ms. Smith said.

She said Mr. 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. Ms. Bashiri worked in a lab trying to find cures for diseases.

Ms. 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

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 Ms. Azadian’s husband.

He called a friend in Ottawa, asking if he could pick Ms. Azadian up at the airport and ensure she was safe.

“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,” Ms. Hojabri said.

Alma Oladi

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 Ms. 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.”

With files from Kathryn Blaze Baum, Caroline Alphonso, Colin Freeze, Kelly Grant, Jill Mahoney, Oliver Moore, Laura Stone, Carly Weeks, Marsha McLeod, Matt Lundy, Tim Kiladze, James Keller, Christine Dobby, Carrie Tait, Stephanie Chambers, Wendy Stueck, Tom Cardoso, Greg McArthur, Justine Hunter, Kelly Cryderman, Justin Giovannetti, and Canadian Press.