Kitchener-Waterloo

Iran plane crash victims with ties to Waterloo region, Guelph

A dentist who worked in Guelph and local university PhD students are among the 176 people who died in Wednesday's crash of the Ukrainian International Airlines jet in Iran.

Dentist, students among 176 people killed in Iran plane crash

Some of the victims of the Iran plane crash have ties to Guelph. They are, from left, University of Guelph student Milad Ghasemi Ariani, researcher Ghanimat Azhdari and dentist Parisa Eghbalian. (Submitted photos)

A dentist who worked in Guelph and local university students are among those who died Wednesday in a plane crash in Iran.

All 176 people aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 to Kyiv died. Here is what we know of people with ties to the community.

Parisa Eghbalian, left, Reera Esmaeilion, centre and Hamed Esmaeilion. Eghbalian and her daughter Reera were both killed in the crash. (Madeline McNair/CBC)

Parisa Eghbalian

Parisa Eghbalian was a dentist who worked out of the Dawson Dental Centres in Guelph. 

She "was adored by our entire team. She was a deeply kind, caring and wonderful person," the dental centre said on Facebook, announcing the office would be closed Thursday, a day after the crash. 

Her daughter, Reera Esmaeilion, was also on board the flight.

Her husband, Hamed Esmaeilion, described his wife as a "wonderful woman," a perfectionist whom he would learn from every day, and a role model for their daughter.

As for Reera, "she was amazing … the best ever," talented in sports, particularly soccer, and spoke three languages: English, French and Farsi.

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani was studying civil engineering at the University of Waterloo. (LinkedIn)

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani was completing a PhD in civil engineering at the University of Waterloo.

He had travelled back to Iran to get married, his friend Alireza Mohamadizadeh told CBC. He was on his way back to Canada to continue his studies when the plane crashed.

"He was so intelligent. He was so smart. He was so kind," Mohamadizadeh said.

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan was a University of Waterloo PhD student but had ties to the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo submitted by Drinda Wilson)

Mari Foroutan

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan was a PhD candidate in geography at the University of Waterloo.

She had previously studied at the University of Calgary and Shiraz University in Iran.

Shawn Marhsall, a professor at the Unviersity of Calgary and who recently published a paper with Foroutan, said she was "the most amazing, intellectual, sweet person that I know in so many ways."

"I knew she was capable of amazing, creative things and would have done amazing creative things. So it is a loss for Canada," he said.

Drinda Wilson met Foroutan when they both stayed in the same house in Calgary.

"When she moved to Ontario, we kept in touch online. I helped her with her English, and we were friends," Wilson said.

Wilson says Foroutan was modest, kind and "quite brilliant. She loved the sand dunes on Mars."

"She was a talented artist as well – she also drew cartoons of herself," Wilson said. " I still can't believe she is gone. This tragedy has affected so many people."

Milad Ghasemi Ariani (Submitted by Towhid Islam/University of Guelph)

Milad Ghasemi Ariani

Milad Ghasemi Ariani was working on a PhD in the department of marketing and consumer studies at the University of Guelph.

Towhid Islam, a professor in the department of marketing and consumer studies, said Ariani was a kind person and a bright student.

"He was very friendly, he was easygoing," Islam said. "He had a very bright future."

Ghanimat Azhdari started studying for her PhD at the University of Guelph in September 2019. She was among the 176 people killed in a plane crash in Iran on Wednesday. (ICCA Consortium/Twitter)

Ghanimat Azhdari

Ghanimat Azhdari was doing research in the college of social and applied human sciences at the University of Guelph. She and her fiancé, Hamed Alibeiki, planned to marry this summer and he would join her in Canada. Alibeiki is still in Iran.

Azhdari was a member of the Qashqai tribe in Iran and worked as a geographic information system specialist. Part of her research included mapping and cataloging Iran's indigenous nomadic communities. 

Associate professor Faisal Moola was Azhdari's adviser and called her "a firecracker." 

"She had this effervescent personality. She was small in stature but had the ability to command a room very easily largely through, not just the force of her personality, but this remarkable narrative that she was so generous in sharing," he told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

Moola said he burst into tears and hugged his son after learning of Azhdari's death Wednesday morning. He said he had just received emails from her, written before she boarded the flight.

"She wrote to me with great fear and trepidation about the possibility of war. She feared for her family and her friends that she would be leaving behind in order to travel to Canada to continue her studies," he said, adding he'd like to continue the work she brough to his lab.

"I'm absolutely convinced that her ideas around advancing and supporting Indigenous people and the protection of their traditional territories is critically important if we are going to protect the planet."

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