Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 Tragedy

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy:

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about those who tragically lost their lives aboard flight PS752 on the morning of January 8, 2020; 167 passengers as well as 9 crew members died on that flight. Of the passengers, 138 were travelling to Canada, including 57 Canadian citizens. This has been the largest loss of Canadian lives in aviation since the 1985 bombing of Air India flight 182.

While details of the crash are unclear and we are left with many unanswered questions, it is important that we continue to keep in the forefront of our minds the victims of this terrible incident and, of course, their families and friends who are dealing with the loss of loved ones.

Many of those aboard were students or academics returning to Canadian universities after spending the holiday break in Iran with family. One such student was Masoumeh Ghavi, a master’s student in engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Ali Nafarieh, a professor at Dalhousie University and owner of the IT company where Masoumeh worked, said of her:

I can say she was for sure one of the top students. I remember she has always a smile on her face. What she brought in our company in addition to skills and knowledge and experience was her energy. She changed the atmosphere over there. We’ll miss her a lot.

Masoumeh’s younger sister Mandieh was also on board and was about to start university in Halifax as well.

St. Mary’s University lost two students who had been studying in the Master of Finance program. Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were classmates and friends who had been returning from a holiday break celebrating the end of their first semester. Both women spoke three languages. Close friend Varun Agrawal said of the crash:

It should not happen like this. They were very innocent and it shouldn’t be like this.

Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, who was a Halifax dentist and an alumnus of the Dalhousie Dental School, has been described as having been an “absolute joy” and one of the kindest human beings. Dentist Ebrahim Kiani had worked with Faghihi and had met her 25 years ago when she was head of the periodontics department at the Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran. In his words:

She was very kind, very generous with her knowledge and very skilled. She was published in many journals… She was a good mentor to me.

Honourable senators, these were real people: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, who were flying to Canada. For loved ones left behind, this type of loss seems unimaginable. We are reminded, at times like this, that in the blink of an eye our lives can radically change. A seemingly normal day can quickly become a date seared in our memory forever, and it can become attached to so much pain.

Honourable senators, on behalf of the progressive caucus, I extend our thoughts and prayers to families and friends of those who passed away as a result of this needless tragedy. Our country has lost some exceptional Canadians.

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