Ottawa

Son of Iran crash victim says father 'stood strong'

More than 200 people came out to Carleton University to remember alumnus Mansour Pourjam and PhD student Fareed Arasteh — victims in last week's crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 outside Tehran.

More than 200 gathered to remember Mansour Pourjam and Fareed Arasteh

Ryan Pourjam, whose father Mansour Pourjam died when a passenger plane crashed in Iran on Jan. 8, says his father was a strong role model who encouraged positive thinking. 3:18

Mansour Pourjam's son Ryan says his father always strived to be positive.

"I can't remember a single moment in my life where Mansour, my dad, had any trace of negativity in his voice or actions," the 13-year-old boy told a crowd of mourners Wednesday at Carleton University.

"He'd always tell me to stay positive, through the dark times and through the good, when we'd get stuck in traffic or when I couldn't get the coffee that I wanted."

More than 200 people came out on Wednesday to a vigil at the university to remember both Pourjam, an Ottawa dental technician who graduated from the school, and PhD student Fareed Arasteh — both victims in last week's crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 outside Tehran.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down the aircraft on Jan. 8, killing all 176 passengers and crew members — including 57 Canadian citizens.

Ryan Pourjam, 13, receives a hug during a ceremony at Carleton University to mourn victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight that crashed outside Tehran. Pourjam's father Mansour, a Carleton alumnus, died in the crash. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

'No words' can fill void

Mansour Pourjam had been working at the Ottawa Denture and Implant Centre in Bells Corners at the time of his death.

"If I could describe [my father] in one word, it would be strong. He's been through tragedy after tragedy, wall after wall, wrong turn after wrong turn — and he's stood strong," his son said, as people in the audience wiped their eyes.

"He was amazing. We loved each other."

Arasteh, meanwhile, was performing PhD research at the university's biology department, where he was studying molecular genetics. He'd returned to Iran for the holidays to marry his long-time girlfriend.

His close friend and roommate Reza Sananfar told the crowd Arasteh was a "dreamer" who worked hard to achieve his goals — and would also help his friends fulfil their own dreams.

Photos of Fareed Arasteh and Mansour Pourjam are displayed on a table during a solemn ceremony at Carleton University on Jan. 15, 2020. Arasteh and Pourjam were both killed when a Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down by an Iranian missile on Jan. 8. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"Although Fareed didn't get to spend much time here at Carleton, I can see that he touched so many lives while he was walking among us here," Sananfar said.

"I thought talking about him would help me to accept the fact that he is not coming back. But there are no words that can ease the pain, or fill the void that many of us are feeling inside us." 

Carleton University president Benoit-Antoine Bacon said it was important to have this gathering to help the community grieve and begin to heal.

Universities across the country paused to honour the victims Wednesday, as many of the passengers on the flight were students, faculty members and researchers.

The University of Ottawa has said that three of the victims were students there, while Queen's University has confirmed one of its undergraduate students died in the crash.

With files from Matthew Kupfer