'Share the love as much as you can': Iranian community in Prince George mourns flight PS752 victims
Academic community at University of Northern British Columbia had connection to several of the dead
Roughly 120 people placed rose petals and lit candles inside a small Anglican church in Prince George Sunday afternoon at a memorial service for victims of the downed Flight P752 plane in Iran.
Though no one from Prince George was on the plane when it was shot down, many in the city are connected to those who were, while others simply wanted to offer their support to friends and neighbours who are grieving.
Hossein Kazemian runs an analytics lab at the University of Northern British Columbia, and is friends with the family of Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani.
The 21-year-old was returning to his studies at the University of Manitoba when he was killed. He dreamed of one day becoming a doctor.
Kazemian said he had advised Ghorbani and his family on the process for coming to Canada. He said the family did not have much money, and made many sacrifices in order to raise the funds needed for a visit home over the holidays.
"They lost almost everything," he said.
Kazemian's wife, Youshita Gashtil, helped organize the memorial through her role as a board member of the Centre of Peace and Reconciliation in Prince George.
"I had a feeling of blame. I feel like we encouraged him," she said in an interview with CBC. "He was the same age as my own son ... he was a bright future cut short."
Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall said the tragedy had made him reflect on his trips to the airport to greet Syrian refugees, and reminded him of the importance of welcoming people fleeing conflict to the city.
Local MLA Shirley Bond said the event had made everyone "global citizens" and spoke of the importance of diversity to Prince George and the province.
Gashtil said she hoped the memorial would remind people of the importance of living life to its fullest.
"You never know when the end comes," she said. "So do your best as much as you can and share the love as much as you can. There might not be a tomorrow."