Edmonton 'ready to support' young girls whose mom, sister died in Ethiopian crash
Tragedy hits home for many Edmontonians who frequently fly with Ethiopian Airlines
Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen had to make a difficult phone call to a close friend on Sunday.
Muhamed Ali had just lost his sister and niece earlier that day in a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia.
Hussen shared the story that evening at a Liberal Party event in Edmonton, where some in the crowd also knew the mother and daughter who died on Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302.
Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her little girl, Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, were passengers on the Nairobi-bound jetliner that crashed, claiming the lives of all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.
"I just encourage you to make prayer for them and to ask for God to provide them with strength in this difficult time," Hussen told dozens in the audience who turned out for the event.
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The tragedy hits close to home for many Edmontonians who frequently fly with Ethiopian Airlines to visit relatives or to vacation in Kenya or Ethiopia.
Habiba Abdulle, whose mother and brother were on the same route just a month earlier, suggested offering prayers and financial support to support Odowa's family.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is, she's a mom," said Abdulle. "She's leaving two children behind. The community is weeping for her tonight."
Odowa and her little girl were on their way to visit family in Kenya when the plane went down.
Odowa's two surviving daughters, three and seven, are in the care of their grandmother in Edmonton.
"Everybody's crying, it's really hard," said Odowa's brother, Ali.
In anticipation of the impact on Sophia's classmates, staff at Lorelei School in north Edmonton were getting ready to help students deal with the loss.
Kids weren't at school Monday because of a professional development day, but a spokesperson with Edmonton Public Schools said a critical incident support services team would be on site Tuesday.
The team consists of social workers and psychologists who will provide various forms of support and short-term counselling to students, parents and staff.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our students from Lorelei School," officials wrote in a statement. "Our condolences go out to the family and all those affected by this tragedy."
While a fundraising campaign through gofundme has been set up to support Odawa's children, community members are also pledging their support.
"I'm ready to support them, to pray for them," said community advocate Abdullahi Nur, who attended Sunday's event. "I'm sure the Somali community will do something for the family, will not leave them alone."