British Columbia·Flight 752 victims

Couple immigrated to B.C. to give their daughter her best chance in life

Naser Pourshaban Oshibi and Firouzeh Madani, doctors both in their 50s, were on the Ukrainian International Airlines flight that crashed on January 8. They are survived by their only daughter, 19-year-old Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi.

Doctors from Iran struggled to have their credentials recognized in Canada

North Vancouver couple Firouzeh Madani (right) and Naser Pourshaban Oshibi (left) died in Wednesday's plane crash in Tehran. They are survived by their only daughter, 19-year-old Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi. (Submitted by Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi)

This is part of a series on the B.C. victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which crashed near Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board.

When Firouzeh Madani and Naser Pourshaban Oshibi came to Canada with their daughter in 2013, the family physicians from Iran had big dreams for themselves and their only child.

But on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, the couple's dreams were cut cruelly short after their plane, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

At the same time, back home in North Vancouver, their 19-year-old daughter Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi was at a local Superstore picking up groceries for her parents' arrival when she received a phone call from her aunt, Farnaz Madani, asking for her parents' flight number.

"I'm like, yeah, sure. What is that for? And she said, 'Well, I just read something that a Ukraine flight has crashed,'" Pourshaban Oshibi recalled the next day, sitting in her family home, hands clasped in her lap.  

Farnaz Madani, sister of Firouzeh Madani who died on a Ukrainian airplane leaving Iran, is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A quick Google search confirmed it was the same flight. Pourshaban Oshibi drove home, waiting several hours into the early morning with her family and close friends until a passenger manifest made the unthinkable official.

Although Pourshaban Oshibi had gone to Iran with her parents two weeks ago, she had come home earlier in order to attend classes at Simon Fraser University where she is an undergraduate student.

She recalls the last conversation she had with her mother, who she described as the kind of generous, intelligent woman who made friends easily, about four hours before the flight. 

Her parents were at the airport early, so early, in fact, the check-in counter for their flight hadn't opened yet. 

"We just laughed a bit. We talked about what she would do on the flight, and what she would do after," Pourshaban Oshibi said, her voice breaking.

"And that's it."

Nineteen-year-old Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi (right) with her mother Firouzeh Madani (left). Madani died in the Jan. 8 plane crash. Kimia was not on board. (Submitted by Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi )

The teenager is studying biomedical physiology — "it's my pre-med degree" — determined to follow in her parent's medical footsteps.

It is part of much bigger plan her parents had dreamed for her from a very young age in Iran. 

"[My father] saw a lot of potential in me and he wanted me to be able to fulfil that potential," she said, adding he had taught her to read at age three. 

"He saw that there would be no legroom for me [in Iran]."

Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi says she hopes to build on her parents' legacy. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

When the family immigrated to Canada in September 2013, Madani and Pourshaban Oshibi's foreign credentials prevented them from practicing medicine. 

"My mom has two MD degrees — one from Iran, one from Romania," Pourshaban Oshibi said. "[But] like many other immigrant doctors, they were going through their exams ... their licensing exams."

It was frustrating for the family. 

Mehdi Bahram, another international medical graduate and family friend, often studied with the pair at the North Vancouver public library.

He said the Canadian licensing process for foreign-trained doctors is extremely difficult.

"You cannot imagine the extent [of the difficulty] for international medical graduates," Bahram said. 

A family selfie in Vancouver. Firouzeh Madani (centre) and Naser Pourshaban Oshibi (right) came to Canada to provide greater opportunities for their daughter Kimia (left). (Submitted by Kimia Pourshaban Oshibi)

With Wednesday's plane crash, the doctors' hard work was suspended; their stories — along with so many others — interrupted in mid-air.

Pourshaban Oshibi is keenly aware of how she embodies her parents' greatest hopes and wishes. 

"My parents had a lot of dreams and things they wanted to achieve — and their time had been cut short," she said. 

"I believe that the only way for me to fulfil my own heart's desire is to continue their legacy ... to be happy. To be successful. To improve."

With files from Tina Lovgreen, On The Coast


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