Manitoba

St. Amant tutor, 11-year-old boy and U of M student among Winnipeg victims in Tehran plane crash

A Winnipeg woman who dedicated her time to helping people living with intellectual disabilities, her 11-year-old son and a University of Manitoba student were all killed on the Ukraine International Airlines flight that crashed in Iran Wednesday.

Father is now en route to Tehran to make funeral arrangements for Noojan Sadr, 11, and wife Farzaneh Naderi

Winnipeg woman Farzaneh Naderi and her 11-year-old son, Noojan Sadr, were on the Ukrainian passenger aircraft that crashed outside of Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. Her husband, Abolfazl Sadr, left, is now en route to Tehran to bury his wife and son. (Submitted by Negysa Kalar)

A mother who dedicated her free time to helping people living with intellectual disabilities. An 11-year-old boy who aspired to one day work at a tech company like Google. A University of Manitoba student who wanted to become a doctor.

These are how friends and relatives are remembering Farzaneh Naderi, her 11-year-old son Noojan Sadr, and U of M student Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani.

The three Winnipeggers have now been confirmed as passengers on Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 that crashed outside of Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

Among the victims were 63 Canadians, as of Thursday, CBC News has confirmed that at least eight of them were from Winnipeg.

Naderi, 38, worked multiple jobs to provide for her family and had just moved into a new house in Winnipeg with her husband and 11-year-old son. In addition to volunteering at St. Amant she also worked as a tutor for kids with autism.

Friends and family are gathering to honour the mother and son Thursday night in Winnipeg, and Naderi's husband, Abolfazl Sadr, is now en route to Tehran to identify the bodies, provide DNA samples and make funeral arrangements.

"They were both so bright. My aunt was so very smart. She worked very hard for her family, always provided, had multiple jobs to support her and … to support my uncle," said Negysa Kalar, Naderi's niece.

She describes her 11-year-old cousin as a talented soccer player who loved playing with her dog and doing crossword puzzles.

Farzaneh Naderi worked at Walmart and volunteered with St. Amant's autism program. Her son Noojan is remembered by his cousin as being wise beyond his years. (Submitted by Negysa Kalar)

But it was his maturity that struck her the most.

"He was the brightest kid. His aspiration was to do something in technology and work for Google, or work for any one of those big companies. He really was such a smart 11-year-old kid," she said.

"It's hard to wrap your head around that such a small kid lost such a big life."

Kalar said her aunt, who worked at Walmart as a customer service manager, and cousin had gone back to Iran for the holidays, and were on their way back to Winnipeg when they were killed in the crash.

Noojan Sadr's cousin says he talked about one day working in technology, at a company like Google. (Submitted by Iranian Community Of Manitoba)

Naderi was also remembered as a "generous, compassionate and kind person" by St. Amant, where she volunteered. The Manitoba organization supports people living with intellectual disabilities. 

"She volunteered with St. Amant for three years before taking a position as an autism tutor in our autism programs, where she supported preschool-aged children, teaching skills to fulfil their potential," St. Amant spokesperson Jennifer Rodrigue said in an email.

Rodrigue said Naderi was a dedicated tutor who genuinely cared about the children she supported, their families and her colleagues.

"We are all devastated by this loss and are holding Farzaneh and her son … in our hearts and thoughts," Rodrigue said.

Kalar has started a campaign on the online fundraising site GoGetFunding to support her uncle, who will have to pay for funeral costs and airfare. She is still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

U of M science student wanted to become doctor

Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani, who went by Amir Ghorbani, was a student at the University of Manitoba. (Submitted by Amir Shirzadi/University of Manitoba Iranian Students Association)

At the University of Manitoba, students and faculty are trying to come to terms with the death of Ghorbani, 21. The university had five students and alumni killed in the crash including Ghorbani.

"If I'm being honest, I couldn't sleep for the last two days," said Arman Ahmadi, one of Ghorbani's roommates. "It's just hard to accept that he's not gonna come back anymore. It's just really hard to believe because we were really close to each other."

The 21-year-old said he talked to his friend, who he knew for about a year, daily and described him as generous and caring in a way that not everyone realized. When Ahmadi was struggling to find a place to stay a few months ago, he said, Ghorbani offered to take him in as a third roommate.

"He told me, 'Just come here,'" said Ahmadi. "He really helped me out with that, and I really appreciate it. I just want his parents to know that your son was a great guy, and we are really sorry. We are so, so sorry."

He said Ghorbani was a science student at the International College of Manitoba, a program for international students at the U of M, hoping to eventually become a doctor.

"He was trying to go into medicine, and his parents were really supportive about that idea. He was gonna do whatever necessary to reach that goal. And we are really sad because of that because we knew he had so much potential," said Ahmadi. "He didn't experience whatever he had, whatever the world held for him."

Farzaneh Naderi dedicated her free time to helping people living with intellectual disabilities. (Submitted by Iranian Community Of Manitoba)

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has intelligence which indicates an Iranian missile shot down the passenger, possibly unintentionally.

But Kalar didn't want to comment on that Thursday.

"I'm trying not to, and my family's trying not to, pay attention too much to those details, but just be there for my uncle and just be there for each other, trying to process what has happened and how we can move forward from here," she said.

"When you say 'bye' you don't expect that to be the last time you say bye."

About the Author

​Austin Grabish landed his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. In 2019, he was on the ground in northern Manitoba covering the manhunt for B.C. fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, which attracted international attention. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

With files from Sam Samson, Meaghan Ketcheson, Karen Pauls

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