British Columbia

'The only remedy is love': North Vancouver united in mourning for victims of Iran plane crash

In the wake of the tragic loss of 176 lives in a plane crash Wednesday in Tehran, The Early Edition broadcasts from North Vancouver, where at least six of the victims lived, to hear how people in the tight-knit Iranian-Canadian community there are coping.

The Early Edition broadcasts from North Shore after at least 6 locals were killed

The owner of Amir Bakery in North Vancouver, Amir Pasavand, lost both his wife Ayeshe Pourghaderi and his daughter Fatemah Pasavand in Wednesday's crash. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The flags in front of the North Vancouver library sit at half-mast today, symbolic of the many people in the community mourning the deaths of 176 people in a horrific plane crash in Iran Wednesday. 

Fourteen people on board the Boeing 737 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran were from British Columbia, and the shock and grief is palpable among the tight-knit Iranian-Canadian community in North and West Vancouver.

Included among the dead are at least six residents of North Vancouver

To hear from those affected, and those offering support, CBC's The Early Edition broadcast from the North Vancouver City Library Thursday and invited the public to join. 

The Early Edition, hosted by Stephen Quinn, broadcasting from the North Vancouver City Library Thursday morning. "Everyone is worried about people here and everybody here is worried about those who are in Iran," said librarian Shideh Taleban. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"The only remedy is love," said Arash Azad, lead pastor at Emmanuel Iranian Church, who will hold a special memorial at his next Sunday service. "It was a fall of hope that needs to be picked up by love and care."

On Wednesday night, community members held a candlelight vigil outside Amir Bakery in North Vancouver. The owner of the bakery, Amir Pasavand, lost both his wife Ayeshe Pourghaderi, 36, and his 17-year-old daughter Fatemah Pasavand in the crash.

 North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma attended the vigil and said she is proud of how the community has come together to support each other, but some people in the crowd told her they have been the victims of terrible comments on social media since the tragedy. 

"What the community needs right now is people who are willing to listen to them," said Ma. "Please join in supporting these people against this kind of racism and hate."

Poet Nilofar Shidmehr knew North Vancouver resident Ayeshe Pourghaderi who died in the crash. "It is a very difficult time to write. When you grieve, it creates this feeling of suspension that is not good for writing," said Shidmehr. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Ali Tootian, director of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians and a teacher, knew a family of three from Coquitlam, B.C. who were all killed — Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, his wife, Niloofar Razzaghi, and their 15-year-old son, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi.

Hamidi was an engineer and Razzaghi had recently completed her teacher's education at the University of British Columbia.

"The family was a role model for whoever starts a new life in Canada," said Tootian. "For all those people who lost their life, I'm sorry."

Retired UBC engineering professor Farrokh Sassani lost two colleagues from the University of Alberta in the crash. "It was not long ago that we wished everybody Happy New year and peace and prosperity but that didn’t happen. From now on I wish for the rest of the year we have peace and hope," he said. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Linda Buchanan, mayor of the city of North Vancouver, said the number of immigrants from Iran to the North Shore grows every year.

"They completely enrich our community with their culture and heritage," said Buchanan, adding Iranian-Canadians are the heart of the city's central Lonsdale business community and critical to the city's identity.

"We are here for them, we support them," she said. "We are a whole community in mourning."

Shideh Taleban moved from Iran in 2009 and is one of four Iranian-Canadians working at the North Vancouver City Library. 

"No matter where you go in the world the country that you were born in, your roots are always there," said Taleban.

"People are really, really shocked by this tragedy on top of everything and the community is trying to be with each other, to reach out to each other, to see how they can support each other," she added.

Members of the public gathered in North Vancouver for a live broadcast of CBC's The Early Edition at the local library to reflect on the impact on the Iranian-Canadian community in the wake of a plane crash in Tehran that killed everyone on board. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

To find support on the North Shore, Wendy McCulloch, executive director of the North Shore Multicultural Society, invited people to come to their facility at 123 East 15th Street.

"Please don't be alone at this time. Come see us," said McCulloch, adding the society can connect people to resources and services they may need.

Ma advised anyone who lost family and friends in the crash to reach out to Global Affairs Canada.

For grief counselling and emotional support, Ma suggests people call the province's free mental health support line at 310-6789.

The mental health support line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is toll-free anywhere in B.C.

  • Click here to listen to the complete broadcast of The Early Edition in North Vancouver.

With files from The Early Edition

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