New B.C. scholarships commemorate victims of Flight 752
Many victims of plane shot down by Iranian forces on Jan. 8, 2020, had ties to Canadian universities
New scholarships established at two B.C. universities will commemorate 176 people killed on a passenger plane shot down by the Iranian military last year.
On Jan. 8, 2020, Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 with a pair of missiles, killing all passengers, including 138 people with ties to Canada.
The Flight 752 Memorial Graduate Scholarship at Simon Fraser University and the Iranian Student Memorial Scholarship at the University of Victoria intend to memorialize the victims and reflect how Canada's universities benefit from the contributions of people from around the world.
Many on board the flight had links to Canadian universities, as students, alumni or faculty.
"We wanted to acknowledge our lost colleagues, our students, our neighbours and friends, and share our sorrow with their families," said SFU lecturer Mahda Jahromi.
"I still get choked up when I think about how similar each one of the victims were to people like myself and my family. A lot of them were young, educated immigrants with families and so many hopes and dreams, lives to live."
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SFU says its scholarship will support graduate students who are "advancing Persian culture and the Iranian community through volunteerism or research."
It was driven by a group of academics, the university said, and supported by a $30,000 gift from the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation. The foundation has supported Flight 752 scholarships at other schools, including one at the University of British Columbia.
Saeed Rezvani, former president of the UVic Iranian Students Association, brought the idea of a scholarship fund to university administrators after it was raised last year by attendees at a vigil for the victims.
According to a news release from the school, the fund will support two annual scholarships, one each for an academically outstanding undergraduate and graduate student who are Iranian citizens, or Canadian citizens or permanent residents with Iranian ancestry.
"It was saddening knowing that everyone on that flight ... they were young, they were coming to Canada, many of them for the first time, hoping to achieve their big dreams," Rezvani told CBC on Friday.
UVic student Roja Omidbakhsh was among those killed.
A Global Affairs Canada report noted that of the 176 killed on Flight 752, 55 were Canadian citizens, 30 were permanent residents, and 53 others were on their way to Canada via Kyiv, Ukraine. Others killed were from Iran, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.
At least 14 victims had ties to B.C.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Iranian Student Memorial Scholarship offered at UVic can do so online, or through the development office. All donations will be matched by the university up to a maximum of $25,000.
With files from On The Island