'Extraordinary' Hamilton-area teacher killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

The son of a Hamilton-area teacher who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash says he'll miss her "tight hugs" and "beautiful laugh."

Dawn Tanner's son says he'll miss her 'tight hugs' and 'beautiful laugh'

Dawn Tanner, right, is pictured with her sons Cody and Hunter. The Hagersville Secondary School teacher was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday. (Cody French/Facebook)

The son of a Hamilton-area teacher who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash says he'll miss her "tight hugs" and "beautiful laugh."

In an emotional Facebook post, Cody French described his mother Dawn Tanner as an "extraordinary woman" and adds her family is proud she dedicated her life to helping the vulnerable.

Tanner, 47, was the department head for the special education program at Hagersville Secondary School and worked there since 2005. 

She was the strongest person I have ever known and I adored everything about her.- Cody French

Kimberly Newhouse, spokesperson for the Grand Erie District School Board, confirmed in a statement to CBC News that Tanner was one of the Canadians killed Sunday when the flight headed to Nairobi, Kenya crashed.

At least 35 nationalities were among the dead. Initial reports identified 18 Canadian victims in the crash.

In his post French says the day of the crash will "forever haunt" his memory, but said he's choosing to celebrate his mother's life instead of mourn.

"She was the strongest person I have ever known and I adored everything about her," he wrote.

French, identified on his Facebook page as a law student the University of York, also thanked the community for the kindness and support its shown his family and asked that people also remember the loved ones of the other 156 people killed in the crash.

Writing that he's sure his mother is looking down on him and his brother, Cody addressed part of his message directly to her.

"I can't begin to explain how much I miss you and how different life will be without your beautiful laugh and your tight hugs. But I just want you to know that both Hunter and I are so proud of you, for helping out the vulnerable and for pursuing your dreams."

Teacher spent off hours helping students with homework

In the board's statement, Newhouse wrote that Tanner "touched the lives of many during her career as an educator."

Part of that work included serving as a learning resource teacher and part of the "Safe and Inclusive Schools Team Committee."

Described as a "champion for all students," she also spent several evenings every week helping students at the Six Nations Polytechnic Homework Support Centre.

Tanner, 47, is being remembered as a proud mother and selfless teacher who helped students from Six Nations with their homework during her off hours. (Grand Erie District School Board)

The board says Tanner was dreaming of becoming an administrator and was taking her principal qualifications course at the time of her death.

"We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Dawn's family, her friends and everyone connected to this tragic loss," wrote Newhouse.

"Dawn will be deeply missed and this sudden loss is being felt across our Board."

Students at the school are currently away for March Break, but when they return counsellors and other supports will be available for all those impacted by the news, Newhouse added.

All flags across the school board are lowered today in Tanner's honour.

Son vows to carry on mother's legacy

At the end of his post, French wrote about how fortunate he and his brother were to grow up with such a proud, supportive mother.

"Hunter and I are so privileged to carry on your legacy, and we hope that we can both continue to make you as proud of us, as we were of you," he wrote.

"Rest in Peace Mom, I love you."

About the Author

Dan Taekema is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: daniel.taekema@cbc.ca


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